There are many players that have pressure on them entering this year’s NBA playoffs, but none have put more pressure on themselves than James Harden. He is one of the most talented offensive players in NBA history. Harden has already won an MVP (2018) and is a three-time scoring champion (2018-2020). But he still hasn’t captured the one thing that matters the most: a championship. So it isn’t outrageous to think that he is under the most pressure this postseason. You may be asking yourself, “Really? Aren’t there other options?” Well of course there are.
Other Players Under Pressure
Paul George hasn’t performed well in the playoffs and still hasn’t captured a ring, but the Clippers aren’t viewed as the team to beat this year. LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who are playing just to get into the playoffs on Wednesday night, have some pressure on them, but they just won the NBA Finals last season. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons haven’t been able to get over that hump yet with the Philadelphia 76ers, but they don’t have a three-headed monster.
Nobody Else to Blame but Himself
The truth is Harden isn’t just under pressure. He is the most under pressure player in the entire league and he put that pressure on himself. Harden came up short in the playoffs with Houston. It was an annual thing, especially getting bounced by the Warriors four times in a five-year stretch. But the real reason why he is most under pressure is due to what he did in order to get to Brooklyn where he could team up with two superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
The Rockets gave Harden everything he wanted, a big contract, trading for Chris Paul, trading away Paul when that didn’t work out, trading for Russell Westbrook, then trading Westbrook to Washington for John Wall when that also didn’t work out. But still, Harden decided to act as if the Rockets hadn’t spoiled him during his time there. When news came out that Harden wanted to be traded, he decided to not fulfill his obligation to be at training camp. Instead, he decided to go party without a mask on and put it on social media where the whole world, including the Rockets organization and its fans.
Then when he did report to preseason camp, he showed up out of shape. Pictures circulated online of him during the season during warmups and it looked like he hadn’t worked out in months. He left his rookie head coach, Stephen Silas, out to dry. During the entire time Harden was away from the team, Silas was forced to act like Harden’s actions weren’t affecting the locker room.
Harden Got His Wish
Why did Harden do all of this? So the Rockets could trade him to the Brooklyn Nets, a team that had more talent and had an easier path to the playoffs and eventually to a championship. But what if that championship doesn’t come this summer? Then this will end up being another failed chapter in Harden’s playoff career. That’s why Harden is under so much pressure.
He is the one that didn’t give Wall a fair shot at the beginning of the season. He’s the one that didn’t handle his trade request as professionally as it should’ve been handled. He is the one that wanted to be in Brooklyn and yes, he is the one that wanted to team up with a future Hall of Famer (Durant) and a seven-time All-Star (Irving). The time has come for Harden to make the blowback that he received at the end of his Houston tenure worth it. Time will tell if he is able to accomplish his goal.
Check us out on our socials:
Twitter: @PTSTNews and @TalkPrimeTime
Facebook Page: Prime Time Sports Talk
Join our Facebook Group: Prime Time Sports Talk
Follow Ben Fadden on Twitter @talkingfriars
Main Image Credit: