James Harden believes he has nothing left to prove in the NBA and is not concerned with pressure coming into the playoffs series with the Toronto Raptors.
Harden doesn't feel the pressure
After joining the Philadelphia 76ers, James Harden is again on a quest for his first NBA championship, and at the age of 33, there is not much time left for him to secure the only thing missing in his trophy case. The Sixers are playing the Toronto Raptors in the first round, and a lot of their potential success lies in Harden's ability to make a meaningful impact in the playoffs.
In an interview with Complex, Harden said he has nothing else to prove in the NBA and that pressure is a word that is non-existent in his vocabulary when it comes to basketball.
"I don't (have anything to prove)… I don't feel any pressure, I don't feel any of that," Harden says. "For me, it's going out there and playing my game, trying to help my team win."
Harden's versatility sets him apart from many other players in the league, and he believes he can contribute in multiple ways for the Sixers in the postseason. He is the teams' leading facilitator while averaging 20 points per game, and on top of that, his experience is something this group of players will need in the following series.
"No, I don't. I don't. For me personally, I always want to go out there and play well and contribute in whatever way I need to contribute, but for me, it's going out there and playing my game, trying to help my team win. I don't feel any pressure, I don't feel any of that."
Criticism because of free-throw attempts
Los Angeles Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue recently launched criticism towards the number of free throws Harden takes in a game and how he gets calls more than any other player in the league. Harden said free throws are an essential part of the game and that defense has to be disciplined if they don't want to foul a player on offense. This season, Harden is going to the charity line 9 times per game, with only Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo being the only players with more free throw attempts per game.
"I don't even pay attention to it. Free throws are a part of the game. You look at who leads the league, Joel and Giannis, what about if you take away their free throws? I don't understand what that comment meant. Free throws are a part of the game. It's on the defense to have discipline and not foul. That's what coaches should be teaching their players. For me I don't pay attention to it, I just try to go out there and make an impact on the game in a positive way every night."
This postseason run will be of tremendous importance for James Harden's legacy, and he will have to play like an MVP if the Sixers want to be able to come out of the eastern conference as champions. Even though his numbers are still looking great, Harden is at the tail end of his prime years, and the timeframe for him to win a championship is getting smaller and smaller.
Even though he says he has nothing left to prove, there is a high probability Harden might be one of those all-time greats without a championship ring to show for, and we all know champions are remembered a bit more favorably than those that always came just close enough to win it all.