NEW YORK — Has James Harden gotten a bum rap?
Though the purpose guard is averaging a league second-best 10.3 assists, he got here to the 76ers with the popularity of being a ball hog.
However that has been removed from the case via the primary two video games he’s performed since being acquired with Paul Millsap from the Nets on Feb. 10.
Harden had 29 factors, a season-high-tying 16 assists and a season-high 5 steals in Sunday’s 125-109 victory over the New York Knicks at Madison Sq. Backyard. This comes after he had 27 factors, 12 assists, and eight rebounds in Friday’s 133-102 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves on the Goal Middle.
He grew to become the primary participant in NBA historical past to have a minimum of 25 factors and 12 assists in his first two video games with a brand new workforce. Harden can be averaging 14 assists whereas doing a strong job of getting teammates concerned.
After he scored the Sixers’ first basket, Harden assisted on the subsequent three on Sunday. His capacity to make teammates higher goes in opposition to what critics warned as soon as the commerce was made due to his being a ball-dominant isolation participant with Houston. The Rockets traded him to the Nets on Jan. 13, 2021. Regardless of enjoying a well-rounded sport in Brooklyn, the ball-hog tag caught with him.
“I don’t care what individuals say,” Harden stated Sunday. “Truthfully, I actually don’t care in any respect what individuals say. I understand how expert and the work I put in to be probably the greatest basketball gamers. Nothing was given to me. I wasn’t probably the greatest basketball gamers rising up. I needed to work each single day to be within the place I’m at present.
“So there’s nothing that no one can inform me about my sport. I put the work in. I am going on the market and produce. I attempt to be the very best teammate I could be each single evening.”
Harden is true about being one of many NBA’s finest gamers.
His accolades embody being the 2018 MVP, a three-time scoring champion, a seven-time All-NBA choice, a 10-time All-Star, and the 2012 Sixth Man of the Yr.
The longer term Corridor of Famer can be one in every of 11 energetic gamers named to the NBA seventy fifth Anniversary workforce.
Whereas these are main accomplishments, the 32-year-old is much from complacent.
“As soon as it’s all stated and carried out, and I’m not capable of play no extra, I need to be up there with the very best, the very best to ever do it,” Harden stated. “Prime 75 is a superb place to begin.”
It ought to come as no shock that Doc Rivers remained in touch with Andre Drummond even after the Sixers traded Drummond to the Nets on Feb. 10
The 2 have had a relationship since Drummond was a roommate of Rivers’ adopted Adam Jones at St. Thomas Extra in Connecticut greater than 10 years in the past.
To Rivers’ recollection, they’ve spoken two or thrice after video games for the reason that commerce.
“My feedback appear to be very sarcastic ones,” he stated. “He made a behind-the-back, left-handed go the opposite evening that went out of bounds. And I simply texted him, ‘What the [freak].’ He texted again, ‘I needed to attempt it.’
“However he’s enjoying nicely, man. I’m comfortable for him.”