James Harden committed his future to the Philadelphia 76ers this offseason, despite a rocky start to his tenure with the team over the final few months of the 2021-22 season. Harden re-signed in free agency on a two-year, $68 million deal this offseason to help the 76ers build a strong roster around him, with the hope being that Harden can improve on the court this season and help lead Philly to a title.
Harden is unhappy with how he has been portrayed in the media to start his tenure with the 76ers
It's safe to say that Harden bought into the 76ers program after he couldn't do so in his season and a half with the Brooklyn Nets. Harden became the primary facilitator of Philly's offense (even as it came at the expense of his scoring) and even accepted a pay cut this offseason to help the front office out. That only happens if you feel comfortable with the team you are playing for.
Yet Harden has continued to get bashed in the media this offseason, thanks to his poor play to close the previous season with the 76ers. Harden believes that the media enjoys predicting his downfall and likes to focus on what he does wrong rather than what he does right. When asked whether he feels like he's gotten credit for buying into the Sixers program since his arrival, Harden offered a definitive response.
"Nope, but guess what? I don't care. There's like a stereotype (of Harden) where people always want to talk. People don't really know me, so they feel like they can just say anything. One thing I won't do is give them any attention. I won't say anything, media-wise, publicly. I don't care, because I'm comfortable and I'm confident in the things I do on and off the court." - James Harden, The Athletic
Until Harden proves his worth on the court, 76ers fans won't give him the respect he's looking for
Harden has a legitimate gripe here. He's done a lot to help out the 76ers organization since arriving in Philadelphia. The results didn't materialize last season, but that doesn't mean the same thing will happen this season. There have been encouraging reports surrounding Harden this offseason that makes it seem like a bounce-back season could be on the horizon.
But what Harden needs to realize is that until he proves himself on the court, the 76ers fans and respective media figures won't give Harden any credit. Harden didn't look great on the court for Philly last season, leading many to wonder whether he was regressing. Sure, Harden took on a larger role as a passer or took less money this offseason, but it has yet to lead to a title to this point.
Until it does, Harden may struggle to get the respect he deserves. He picked up the 76ers system on the fly last season, leading to some ugly basketball down the stretch. That should change this season, but until it does, Harden shouldn't expect to get credit from anybody, especially the media, for buying into his new team's program.