While Houston Rockets guard James Harden is currently one of the NBA’s most dominate players, his talents as a basketball player are often overshadowed by the burly beard growing on his face. He may have a soft-spoken demeanor, but his game speaks volumes.
Harden’s style of play and attitude has led many basketball fans to despise the former Arizona State Sun Devil. While they feel they have sufficient evidence for hating Harden, the arguments are completely unjustified. Let’s take a look at why.
The Refs Are NOT Bailing Harden Out
Fans absolutely hate when the referees “bail out” a player by calling a foul on the defense. It’s almost as if people believe a player, in this case James Harden, isn’t really all that good because he earns a lot of his points from the free throw line because the refs call fouls in his favor.
While superstars do usually get the benefit of the doubt while on offense, this is no reason to hate on a player. To be fair, Harden has led the league in free-throw attempts in seven of the last eight seasons. Since joining the Rockets, he has shot more than 2,000 more foul shots than any other player in the league.
Here’s the thing, Harden isn’t doing anything different from any other player in the league. He’s simply drawing fouls intentionally more often and further from the basket, resulting in three shots rather than two. If you want to hate a player for being smart, there’s nothing I can do for.
Harden Does NOT Travel on Every Play
Harden’s style of play and unique step-back three pointers have garnered attention and criticism from almost every basketball fan and analyst. And while his move is questionable, he does not get called for traveling as often as people suspect.
Harden has just 67 traveling violations in 606 games while Milwakee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo has 152 violations since 2012 — 22 more than the next closest player.
In fact, Ronnie Nunn, the former director of NBA officials said this about traveling: “Calling travel is about a dance. Once you understand the rhythm of it, you can determine whether it’s legal or not. It’s really not about counting steps anymore once you see it. Just know the rhythm.”
Harden certainly knows the rhythm and is dancing all over his opponent’s defense.
Harden IS One of the Greatest Offensive Players in NBA History
Just because Harden has been unable to lead the Rockets to the NBA Finals during his eight-year tenure in Houston doesn’t automatically disqualify him as one of the league’s greatest offense players.
There are scores of phenomenal players across all sports that never earn the coveted championship. Why penalize Harden and not someone like Dolphin’s quarterback Dan Marino, who never won a Super Bowl? The answer: because basketball fans are unjustified in their hate for Harden.
Harden is one of five players in NBA history to average at least 25 points and 6 assists in over 500 career games. The other four are LeBron James, Oscar Robertson, Jerry West and Allen Iverson. That’s some pretty good company.
Additionally, Harden’s 29 games with at least 40 points and 10 assists is second only to Oscar Robertson. This feat is also more than LeBron, Michael Jordan, and Larry Bird, combined. He’s currently fourth on the career-list for 50 point games and fifth on the career 3-pointers list.
There are just two words for those who hate and discredit James Harden: “Stop it.”