James Harden Seen Partying With Lil Baby, Travis Scott After 3-17 Performance In Blowout Loss To The Nets | Should The 76ers Be Worried?

(Photo: CBC)

The Philadelphia 76ers were blasted 129-100 on Thursday night by the Brooklyn Nets in the teams’ highly anticipated matchup post the James HardenBen Simmons trade. Harden was awful. He scored 11 points on 3-for-17 shooting and was a team-worst minus 30 for the game. Following the game, the TNT “Inside the NBA” crew and NBA Twitter came for the former league MVP for failing to produce, again, in a big game. On Friday morning a video of Harden out partying with Travis Scott and Lil Baby surfaced, adding fuel to the fire.

Harden partying with his friends shouldn’t offend your sensibilities if you’re a rational human being. How many of you after a very poor day at work, have kicked back and cut loose with the crew? That’s what an NBA game is to players. Work. Everyone has bad days at the “office.” How you choose to deal with a bad day is up to you.

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It is fair to critique Harden’s performance. You don’t even need metrics for that. If you watched the game you know it was poor.

Shaq and Chuck were great players and former MVPs, so they are in a position to really talk about Harden’s shortcomings. As Chuck said at halftime:

“When you’re a great player you don’t need to play great every night. You just can’t suck.”

The reality is Harden has a reputation for underperforming in big games. The 10-time All-Star, seven-time All-NBA, three-time scoring champ, sixth man of the year, MVP, and member of the NBA 75th Anniversary Team has not performed on the biggest stage like someone with this résumé should.

Add in the way he left Houston and Brooklyn, and Harden has more detractors than ever. If he is unable to win a title in Philadelphia or at least compete for a title and play well in a losing effort, this will be a stain he won’t be able to remove.

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It’s unfair when you think about it. The NBA title is a 1-30 lottery chance, but fans and rings culture have everyone obsessed with that as the only metric to determine a player’s worth.

In his 13 NBA seasons he’s been to the playoffs 12 times. Teams he’s played on have advanced to the conference semifinals eight times, the conference finals four times, and an NBA Finals with the OKC Thunder in 2012.

The majority of NBA players never make it to a conference finals.

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For comparison, look at Chris Paul. The “Point God” has been in the NBA for 17 seasons. His teams have made seven trips to the conference semifinals, the conference finals twice, and one NBA Finals.

The point is it is really hard to win in this league.

Thursday’s performance by Harden is either an aberration or a sign of things to come in Philadelphia. When president of basketball operations Daryl Morey decided to pull off the trade for Harden, he did so with the mindset that James Harden is a superstar. If you pair two MVP-level players together (Joel Embiid) your chances of winning the title increase.

That’s what the math says.

For Philadelphia to be the team they think they can be come June, Harden will need to be that constant he’s shown he can be when it matters the most.