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The Beard finds a new commitment to winning — "This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship."

Sixers' James Harden recently shocked the basketball world after declining his massive 47 Million dollar option this offseason and taking a PAYCUT that allowed the Sixers to get more assets for a championship run.
Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden

James Harden

After years and years of failing to capture the title, Philadelphia's James Harden stepped in to help the team elevate their roster to go all in for a championship run next season. Harden, 32, signed a Two-Year $68.6M deal this offseason and took a 14 Million pay cut that led to the signings of former Rocket teammates of his in, PJ Tucker and Danuel House, who immediately fills the need of forward positions on the Sixers.

Yahoo Sports' conversation with James Harden included how bad Harden wants to win as he put General Manager Daryl Morey in a position to sign players that will improve their roster:

"This is how bad I want to win. I want to compete for a championship. That's all that matters to me at this stage. — I told Daryl to improve the roster, sign who we needed to sign and give me whatever is left over." Harden told Yahoo Sports.

Let's Rewind a Little

In recent years, the media has feasted over Harden's on and off-court drama, with news, photos, and such dropping all over the internet. It's no secret that Harden has had an eventful last few years after forcing to be traded twice in 13 months.

Houston, They had a Problem

Starting off with the Rockets team that flew too close to the Sun, or should I say the Warriors. Chris Paul and James Harden were leading the Rockets to greater heights, but time and time again, they fell to a dynasty by the name of Golden State.

After two good but not great seasons, Paul and Harden had a public split, as we have seen in games where they seem to not be getting along. Paul stated that the relationship was "unsalvageable" as they had "no respect for each other." Paul reportedly had issues with Harden's disinterest in getting into the Rockets' offense without the ball as he "sometimes barely steps over the half court while watching when Paul had the ball."

The 2018 MVP's issue with handling the ball is one of only many that would pop out in recent years.

A One-Off Reunion

Russell Westbrook, who is still a subject of rumors around the league, has also been a subject of one of the public breakups with James Harden. Westbrook was traded to Houston for Paul, and in that season, the Rockets would go all in on the Small Ball scheme putting 6'5 PJ Tucker at Center in most times. This proved to be inconsistent as they lost to the Lakers, who were then crowned champions that season.

After the '19-'20 season, it didn't matter who requested a trade first as both stars wanted out. Westbrook was first traded to Washington, and then Harden was traded mid-season to Brooklyn that would form *almost* one of the best offensive big threes of all time.

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In reports of the split, Westbrook reportedly had problems with Harden's tardiness and work ethic as, at times, Harden came late for film sessions and such, and Westbrook was not a fan of tardiness. Harden reportedly wanted John Wall in that Westbrook trade, but getting Wall wasn't enough to convince him to stay or believe that a championship window was still open.

Off-the-court Lifestyle

Harden's lifestyle, especially at night, became popular in the media. Reports were coming in left and right of Harden's constant partying at certain clubs with certain artists that would often lead to, sometimes, a not-so-James Harden performance in games.

It was at this point when the basketball world wasn't sure if Harden wanted to win anymore. Although mixed with off-court drama, the Brooklyn Nets didn't care at all as they acquired Harden.

One of the Biggest What If's in History

Coming to Brooklyn, Harden looked phenomenal. Combined with Durant and Irving, the Nets looked unstoppable. But yet again, some stars just don't align with each other. Over time, Kevin Durant grew tired and had issues with Harden's conditioning as it affected his performances in games. Harden, on the other hand, didn't seem to care. Harden also had issues with Kyrie Irving's vaccine status as the trio struggled to keep it together and actually play games together, only playing 16 games as a trio.

This led to yet again Harden forcing a trade and now to Philadelphia. Harden reportedly wanted guys who wanted to win, and he always wanted Philadelphia ever since requesting a trade out of Houston.

Sixer Curse

The Harden and Embiid duo has proven to be forceful. Some even compared them to the great Shaq and Kobe. Embiid finished second in MVP Votings with 30-11-4 averages, and Harden was great as his wingman, averaging 21-7-10.

Although looking promising before the postseason, the Sixer curse struck Philadelphia yet again as they failed to make the Conference Finals, losing to Miami, 2-4. The Sixers have now lost in the Second Round in four of the last five years.

One Big Goal

The Sixers are looking to make a dominant run this year with all their players having one thing in mind. Harden was seen to be taking on the mentor role on some of their younger players like Tyrese Maxey, and there is no doubt that Joel Embiid will be making some noise again after feeling that he should have won MVP last season.

With Harden proving to take the necessary measures to secure a championship, will the Sixers finally do so?

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