James Harden has cultivated a legion of fans through his ball-dominating, offensive mastery that garnered him an MVP in 2018.
Harden was a late-comer to the running this season as Houston started slowly but then went on a tear that took them into the playoffs.
His scoring prowess went as far as to draw him comparisons to Michael Jordan, which most hoops fans will agree is hyperbole and sports ignorance at its best.
For starters, Jordan’s scoring had an end game, as his six championship rings will attest to. Harden’s chuckwagon omnipotence hasn’t resulted in as much as an NBA Finals appearance with Houston. Last season was no different as Harden petered out in some of the playoff’s biggest spots.
Speaking of false narratives, Harden says he was the victim of a year-long, media love affair with Milwaukee Bucks player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was voted MVP over Harden in 2019.
James Harden believes Giannis Antetokounmpo won MVP last season because of the media narrative created at the beginning of the year.
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) August 22, 2019
In an interview with 97.9 The Box on Wednesday, Harden went on a mini-rant concerning an MVP Award that he feels he got snubbed on.
“The media…they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year and they take that narrative and run with it the entire year. I don’t want to get into details but all I can do is control what I can do and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level…There’s probably a few other seasons that anybody has ever done that before.”
Harden is correct about the fact that the media often takes narratives and runs with them. He’s just a hard guy to figure out because if that was Kobe or Jordan on that interview, I guarantee you the majority of the conversation would have been about how they failed to lift their team to a championship.
That’s how you prove you are the best in the game. Harden’s major problem and the reason why he hasn’t elevated his playoff game to Kawhi Leonard levels is that he chases paper trophies. That’s Harden for you though. In addition to all of that magnificence game, he’s always flopping and fussing.
Most points scored in a loss over the last 30 years.
70: Devin Booker (2017)
64: Michael Jordan (1993)
60: Kemba Walker (2018)
58: Kobe Bryant (2006)
58: James Harden (2019)
58 Russell Westbrook (2017)
57: Michael Redd (2006)pic.twitter.com/tgnKq3csi8
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 17, 2019
He’s a product of today’s sports landscape where people believe that stats and fancy outfits tell the entire story. With stars like Harden who are larger than life — and great contributors to the community — losing on the court is always somebody else’s fault.
Even if Harden truly believes that the media already anointed Greek Freak MVP before the season got going, it’s lame to campaign for the trophy after the fact. LeBron did that a couple of years ago and it isn’t becoming of him. Then again, Bron has three titles so he can riff about MVPs without people looking at him sideways.
The Beard, on the other hand, has no credibility to criticize Greek Freak’s MVP win. Harden has the superior offensive game, but Milwaukee had the best regular-season record and it can easily be argued that there wasn’t a more valuable player to his team that Greek Freak.
After years of obscurity, the Bucks became a global sensation. A refreshing and new addition to the stale Eastern Conference scene. Greek Freak filled the superstar vacuum left by LeBron’s move to Los Angeles and got to the Conference Finals. And yes James, Antetokounmpo’s journey and international ties add intrigue and value to his MVP win.
It’s actually refreshing to see the voters take various categories, including leadership and impact into account.
We have seen Harden’s act before. Maybe the narrative that he should be concerned with is that he can’t come up big in the playoffs. Despite all of his record-breaking scoring, he’s still not considered one of the elite players of all time. He’s not even considered the best in the game today.
Harden needs to focus on how he’s going to make it work with Russell Westbrook this season and less about getting shafted for an MVP award that doesn’t truly count until you win one in the NBA Finals.