The 2012 Oklahoma City Thunder were the NBA’s team of the future. Despite losing in the Finals, they had a young core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden. Everyone said it wouldn’t be soon before they are back in the Finals – we know that never happened. Their loss was written off to youth and inexperience – Kendrick Perkins revealed who he thought was to blame for the loss.
Perkins claims Harden disappeared
Perkins claimed that Harden disappeared in the series after the games went to the South Beach in Miami. OKC won the first game, but the Heat was able to equalize.
“We get to Miami and South Beach get a hold to us, right? James Harden disappeared. Completely off the face of the Earth. When we needed him the most, his numbers that I mean his numbers in the finals were mind-boggling. I don’t know what it was but i just know he wasn’t there.”Kendrick Perkins, Forgotten Seasons
A quick look at the stats in the regular season, Harden averaged 16.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 steals. Meanwhile, postseason stats were 16.3 points, 5.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists. So, does Perk have a point in his opinions?
On per game basis in the Playoffs, The Beard scored double-digits each time, with the lowest output being 10 points against the Dallas Mavericks in the Western Conference playoffs first round. However, in the Heat series, Harden scored single digits in three of five games against Miami. He scored 9 points in Game 1, which the OKC won, and scored 9 and 8 points in Games 3 and 4 (played in Miami), respectively. The apparent dip in production prompted Perk to say that James disappeared in the 2012 finals.
James Harden was only 22 years old in 2012, while Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant were both 23. Age and immaturity could have played their part against the veteran-laden roster of the Miami Heat that featured James Jones, Mike Miller, Udonis Haslem, and Shane Battier – alongside the Big 3. Having that veteran presence in the locker room was a significant factor.
Harden’s revenge tour
Harden and KD’s team up in Brooklyn Nets will be an interesting one next season. If completely healthy, the Nets could give anyone in the East a run for their money. Should they go to the Finals, former teammate Westbrook and former Finals tormentor LeBron James could stand in their way if the L.A. Lakers come out in the very tough Western Conference. Add to that Kyrie Irving, who would be facing former teammate James, and the personal drama would reach maximum levels.
While KD and Kyrie are proven Finals superstars, Harden has a reputation for disappearing in crucial Playoff moments. His OKC disappearing act repeated several times in a Rockets jersey. The Nets are favorites to make it there, and Harden will have a chance to once and for all prove Perkins and all other doubters wrong (or right).