Why James Harden will never be on LeBron’s level

Why James Harden will never be on LeBron’s level

When Ferran Adrià, the head chef at El Bulli, the best restaurant in the world, was asked what’s the biggest sin someone can commit in his kitchen, he said, “Disrespecting the dishwasher.” In El Bulli, LeBron would become the head chef – James Harden would not.

With great power comes great responsibility, and Harden is learning that the hard way. He got a lot of power over the Rockets, and now that we know to which extent Harden dictated everything in Houston, the spotlight is on him. That’s the other side of the player empowerment coin, and not everyone has it in them to pay the price. 

Tim MacMahon and many others pointed out – the treatment Harden got in Houston is standard practice for top tier players in the NBA. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George got it with the Clippers. We know LeBron is consulted on every major decision wherever he goes. The difference between the guys I named is, LeBron seems to be the only guy fully aware of the responsibility that comes with a max contract and so much influence over an organization. At that point, you are not just a teammate – you become part of management. 

How do you earn the respect and trust of your teammates despite the fact you’re getting special treatment? You have to outwork and outperform everyone on the team. So when Kawhi was late for team meetings in the bubble or Kawhi for team planes, is when you lose your team. This is where LeBron gets it. First one in, last one out.

You LeBron was changing the Cavs travel procedures in 2006. But you want to get on LeBron’s wrong side? Show up late for the bus. He one time dressed down his teammates in Cleveland in his second stint because he thought they were leaving the visiting locker rooms in some of these places too messy.

Brian Windhorst, The Hoop Collective

The chase for excellence is a principle. You don’t get to pick and choose the days you will act as a champion – it’s a 365 days a year process. It requires discipline and respect for others. “Respect the dishwasher.”

This kind of leadership is equally important for LeBron’s insane longevity at the top, as are all the millions he spends on hyperbaric chambers and whatnot. There is a reason why Phil Jackson, Pat Riley, and Gregg Popovich have more rings than the rest of the league combined (give or take a few). Judging a player’s character is as important as his vertical leap – particularly with your team leader. If you’re not over yourself and ready to lead by example, maybe you should join a different team.