James Harden goes M.I.A.
With the NBA’s pre-season tipping off later this week, teams have begun holding abbreviated and strict training camp workouts. This is the first time many NBA players have been able to play 5 on 5 Basketball since March. Unless, of course they were on a team that was involved in the fairy tale known as the NBA Bubble.
The Houston Rockets were one of 22 teams that met the talent standard necessary to finish the 2019–20 NBA season down in the Orlando Bubble. They have also been a team that has been very active in free agency and trades during this historically short offseason. They went out and signed two big names in Christian Wood and DeMarcus Cousins. They were also involved in last week’s trade that sent Russell Westbrook to Washington in return for John Wall.
All these moves were made with a black cloud hanging over them. The Rockets have been in a tug-of-war match with franchise center-piece James Harden. It was rumored that he was trying to force his way to Brooklyn via trade, however, there has not been much smoke around that rumor since November.
After the trade for John Wall, it seemed as though the Rockets were looking to compete for an NBA Title and that Harden was content staying in Houston for the foreseeable future. Even John Wall expressed his confidence that Harden would be a Rocket for many seasons to come. Only one problem… Harden has yet to report to the Rockets facility for individual and team workouts that began on December 1st.
So… Where has Harden Been the past week?
Well, according to multiple photos that have circulated around social media, Harden has been with rapper, Lil Baby for his 26th birthday. In fact, Harden gifted Lil Baby a Prada Bag, a $200,000 Richard Mille Watch and $100,000 in cold hard cash. More photos have surfaced of Harden living his best life at Drai’s Nightclub rather than reporting to Rockets training camp.
Houston plays the Chicago Bulls this Friday in their first of four-pre-season games. They will likely be without Harden for those games with the way this saga has gone. Harden is displaying the characteristics of a poor teammate and a major headache to have on your roster.
New head coach, Stephen Silas says ‘He’s not here, and he has a reason, but that’s on him to tell whoever what the reason is.’ Silas went on to say that ‘There is no timetable [for his return] as far as I know, it is a setback.’
I get that NBA players, especially those who just finished their season a mere 2 months before the start of the 2020–21 season would want an extra few days off before returning to training camp. However, if you are James Harden and you have had so many trade rumors and turmoil surrounding your name, you would think he would want to be the first person at Rockets training camp to dismiss the rumors and get back down to business… Instead, he is out exposing himself to Covid-19 by being in crowds without wearing a mask. In turn, he puts his entire family and Rockets teammates at risk of contracting the virus.
I just read a tweet while writing this that sums up Harden’s behavior perfectly. The tweet read, ‘Everyone watched the Last Dance and got inspired by MJ… Harden watched the Last Dance and got inspired by Dennis Rodman.’ That is the type of behavior he has exuded these past few days while he has failed to report to Rockets training camp with the rest of his teammates.
Could not have said it better myself, Mr. Anonymous Twitter man.