After his abysmal performance against the Lakers, James Harden’s last press conference seems to have accelerated the Rockets desire to trade him. Harden basically made a quick statement, got up, and left. Here’s what he said.
“[We’re] just not good enough…I love this city. I literally have done everything that I can. I mean, this situation is crazy. It’s something that I don’t think can be fixed.”Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
The moment I heard it, the “done everything that I can” rubbed me the wrong way. From everything we heard about Harden in the past few months, he wasn’t the definition of accountability. We know Harden spent as many nights in nightclubs as he did in NBA arenas, and that can’t be conducive with peak athletic performance. Literally, every organizational decision wasn’t made just to make him a better player but to accommodate his lifestyle – often to the team’s detriment.
Last night, Shaq wanted to reflect on the same part of Harden’s statement. The Rockets actually did everything they could for Harden. Everyone else around him had to sacrifice so he could play exactly like he wanted to. People had to pick up his slack on defense and stand in the corner on offense – a lot of Harden’s numbers happened because others were willing to do so.
“When you say you gave the city your all, that ain’t true. You asked for Dwight Howard; we gave them to you, didn’t work out. You asked for Chris Paul; we gave them to you. You asked for some shooters; we gave them to you. You asked for Westbrook, your homeboy from little league; we gave him to you.”Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
O’Neal pointed out being the superstar max player comes with a special set of responsibilities, ones that, in Shaq’s mind, Harden failed to meet. If a team is catering to you at such a level, a Finals appearance would’ve been nice.
“And when you say ‘I gave you everything,’ I say no, you didn’t. Cause the last five games, when it comes to elimination, you’re 1 and 4. You’ve been shooting 41%, 24% from three, 32 assists, and 27 turnovers.”Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
Shaq took the liberty to call Harden out like this because he used to be the same guy. Shaq said he would come home and complain about everything and everyone, yet never found the courage and strength to look in the mirror. Then his late father would call him out, “But what the hell did you do?” Then Shaq summed Harden tenure in Houston like this.
“He ain’t done nothing. He didn’t step up when he was supposed to step up. Chuck has said it many times. When you the man, you got a big responsibility, it’s all on you. When it comes time to show up, he ain’t show up. I know a lot of people in Houston glad he’s gone. He’s got his little superteam. He gotta win this year. If he doesn’t win this year, it’s a bust. ”Shaquille O’Neal, Inside the NBA
Could not agree more with Shaq. Harden didn’t have excuses in Houston, yet it was always someone else’s fault. Yet again, Harden got everything he wanted – he is in Brooklyn, where he joins Kevin Durant and (possible, who the hell knows) Kyrie Irving. Will he be able to change his game and adapt to playing with two stars? I’m not too confident about that.