Former Brooklyn Nets star James Harden is one of the most talented guards in the history of the NBA. In his career, Harden has a near-flawless resume as a multi-time All-Star, All-NBA selection, scoring champion, and Most Valuable Player award winner. He is one of the best isolation scorers the game has ever seen, but Harden’s former Houston Rockets head coach and former Nets assistant, Mike D’Antoni, says that the star guard’s style of play leaves a lot to be desired.
“People don’t like it, aesthetically it’s not good. I don’t love it, I’d rather pass the ball around,” D’Antoni said on the “Thinking Basketball” podcast.
“And if I didn’t have a team that had James Harden, guess what? We’d pass the ball around. You got James Harden, imma make him the best player he could possibly be.
The latest Nets news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Nets newsletter here!
Mike D’Antoni Played Role in James Harden Joining Nets
The one thing that has evaded Harden in his career is winning his first NBA title. He came the closest to winning the title in 2018 when he, D’Antoni, and the Rockets pushed the defending champion Golden State Warriors to game seven but ultimately lost that game at home.
The Rockets never made it to the NBA Finals under D’Antoni, and upon his exit in 2020, Harden also started planning his escape from Houston. When D’Antoni took a job with the Nets as an assistant in 2021, Harden knew he wanted Brooklyn to be his next destination.
“Yeah, when Daryl [Morey] and Mike [D’Antoni] left, I sat back and reevaluated everything. Those are two guys I was very comfortable with and the decision-making for the organization,” Harden said. “Once they left, I had to figure out was is this organization going into a rebuilt stage or were they still trying to compete at the highest level,” Harden told the New York Post in January 2021.
“[D’Antoni] was a part of it. Mike’s an unbelievable coach. He’s been doing it for a very, very long time. Obviously, Mike is a factor. Being comfortable with him being comfortable with Kevin, knowing Kyrie, just those four pieces right there made it easy. Obviously, them being in Brooklyn, for me it was a no-brainer.”
Former Nets Assistant Praises Steve Nash
The irony of D’Antoni being brought onto the Nets coaching staff is that the head coach was one of his former Phoenix Suns players, Steve Nash. Nash replaced former Nets coach Kenny Atkinson in 2020, which surprised many people because he had no experience as a head coach. But former Nets assistant Adam Harrington says that Nash’s experience as a player helped him as a coach in Brooklyn’s locker room.
“Steve was constantly breathing life into everybody he came into contact with, and I think that’s why people ultimately trusted him and also, he was a worker. You always saw him in the gym; you always saw him before and after practice, you saw him in the cold tub; he was very meticulous about what he ate, he was meticulous about his body and he led that way as well but, his sense of humor; his ball-busting in the locker room [laughing]… he was just constantly engaged so he built genuine relationships with teammates and you definitely saw that on the coaching side too,” Harrington said to Brandon Robinson on the “Scoop B Radio” podcast.
“Like I said, he was a great communicator, never got rattled, very well prepared and so you saw those transitions there and it wouldn’t surprise me with anything in Steve’s life, even his career in the NBA. It didn’t start well. Forget about those Phoenix days and forget about getting booed in Dallas when he had a bad injury. Steve has ALWAYS found success in EVERYTHING he does. So, and the way that he carries himself I still look up to him. He’s an incredible father, incredible husband and I’m always impressed about how he’s always able to manage it all and keep the spirit that he has.”