James Harden has thrust himself into the MVP discussion with his scoring brilliance. He’s got the Nets winning nearly 77 percent of games they’ve played with him (20-6) with his ability to facilitate the offense. But one trait—his leadership—continues to generate less of the conversation, even though it’s been very much a key element for the Nets since they traded for him on January 14.
It was on display again Monday during Brooklyn’s 117-112 win over the Knicks at Barclays Center.
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Harden Confronts Jordan
In the middle of Monday’s game, a fan captured an impassioned interaction between Harden and Jordan before posting video of the exchange on Twitter.
In the video, an animated Harden is seen leaning in closely to Jordan, who was seated on the Nets bench during a timeout. Harden, the 2017-18 NBA MVP and a perennial All-Star, is seen talking with his hands as he gets a point across to his 6-foot-11 center.
— Zach Yudenfriend (@zyudenfriend) March 16, 2021
On Twitter, the reaction was essentially universal.
“That is fantastic. If Nets ultimately win a title this year it will be because of Harden’s leadership,” tweeted Lori Robinson, a sports talk radio host on WFAN.
“Accountability,” tweeted Billy Reinhardt, a reporter for Nets Daily.
And there was plenty more.
lool Harden really been on DJ and it shows, its working https://t.co/6Bh6bnta7f
— BANG!³ (@Str8Buckets_) March 16, 2021
L E A D E R S H I P https://t.co/480zEvm4Ox
— younes (@juwinyou) March 16, 2021
I love this relationship. https://t.co/Kg9ZOnLq7F
— Elvis Escobar (@utlplayersElvis) March 16, 2021
You know people gonna take this the wrong way. Real ones know this about being better and reaching that ultimate goal https://t.co/mPlzVUTQZ9
— Phil 🥸 JH 🧔🏿 and Scoot 🛴Propganda Page (@GoatdenBettah) March 16, 2021
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Harden Has Done This Before
This is not the first time Harden has been spotted confronting Jordan. Nor the second.
In fact, he’s been caught having impassioned talks with Jordan several times this season, usually after a defensive lapse.
Earlier this season, in a game against the Detroit Pistons on February 9, Jordan appeared to just give up playing defense in the middle of a play.
During a timeout shortly thereafter, YES Network cameras caught Harden’s frustration with Jordan. Harden was seen voicing that frustration by confronting Jordan about his defense during a timeout.
Harden was trying to coach his new team after trailing early vs. Detroit. pic.twitter.com/mSpVQo17oo
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 10, 2021
The next day, after the Nets rebounded from the Pistons loss with a win over the Indiana Pacers, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash said he and Jordan also shared some heated exchanges in Detroit, per Brian Lewis of the New York Post. Jordan responded with 12 points, 13 rebounds and three locks — and Nash praised the way the veteran center bounced back, per Lewis.
Nash admits he and DeAndre Jordan got emotional and upset with each other last night; praised the way the veteran center responded tonight. #Nets
— Brian Lewis (@NYPost_Lewis) February 11, 2021
Jordan, an All-Star for the Clippers in 2016-17 who twice led the NBA in rebounds, insisted his exchanges with Nash and Harden weren’t anything negative.
“We’re competitors. Everybody on this team. All the coaches, a lot of those guys have played in this league before. And our team, we’ve got a lot veteran guys who ultimately want to reach the pinnacle of this game of basketball,” Jordan said after the Pacers game, via SNY. “It was just — we want to win. It’s just trying to find the right ways and schemes during game and different adjustments. That’s where I think our conversation went. A lot of things get blown out of proportion and some of that is you guys’ fault (the media), some of that is just people trying to get clicks. But every conversation that people have, we can’t judge by their facial expressions. A lot of that is just how we talk during the heat of the game. It’s not anything negative.”
"We're competitors, man. Everybody on this team"
DeAndre Jordan addresses the animated exchange him and Steve Nash had following Tuesday's loss to Detroit pic.twitter.com/uvG21csw3D
— Nets Videos (@SNYNets) February 11, 2021