Last season the Brooklyn Nets, the future of their big three of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, and James Harden, was shaken upside down by the trade request from James Harden. With Kyrie Irving sitting out a majority of the team’s games due to New York City’s vaccination mandate and his refusal to be vaccinated and butting heads with Durant, Harden’s frustration grew, and the All-Star guard ended up demanding a trade from the club. Since his departure, Harden hasn’t had the kindest words about the Nets.
Now in a December 16 report from Fox Sports’ Yaron Weitzman, Harden called out his former team and its lack of structure.
“I don’t mean to, like, just down talk to anybody or whatever. It was just, there was no structure, and even superstars they need structure. That’s what allows us to be the best players and leaders for our respective organizations,” he said.” Weitzman wrote.
James Harden’s Departure From Brooklyn
It’s not unfair to suggest that the lack of structure that Harden cited also contributed to his other frustrations. With Irving missing extended games and even the players never coming together. It came from a number of what Irving described as internal problems within the organization.
“‘I just feel like,” Harden continued, “internally, things weren’t what I expected when I was trying to get traded there. I think everybody knows that. And I knew people were going to talk and say, ‘You quit’ and all that stuff, but then the following summer, the other superstar there [Durant] wanted to leave. So it’s like: Am I still the quitter?'” Weitzman continues.
While Harden’s request was a surprise and shook up the trajectory of the future of the Nets’ big three, it may have been the right move to make. Months after Harden was traded in the summer, Durant requested to be dealt from Brooklyn. Perhaps he got out at the right time. Harden wound up losing to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference playoffs in events that left him “broken.”
Harden Left’ Broken’ by Playoff Elimination
A source also told Weitzman about the hurt that Harden felt following the Sixers’ playoff elimination. After losing to the Heat, Harden was reported as being ‘broken’ and ‘unreachable’ even by his longtime friend and manager, according to Weitzman’s report.
“Payne has known Harden for years, so he understood that Harden reacts to year-ending losses by holing up in his Houston home and withdrawing from the world,” Fox Sports’ Yaron Weitzman wrote. “But this … well, this was different.
“‘He was broken,’ one friend of Harden’s said. ‘It was bad. He was really hurting.'”
It took some time, but ultimately Harden wound up reaching out to his friends and motivated for a new Sixers season.
“Another day went by,” Weitzman wrote. “Then another. Payne reached out to some mutual friends to see if they’d heard from Harden. None had. Payne tried Harden’s personal chef.
“‘Yeah, he’s here,’ the chef said. ‘He’s just saying he needs more time to himself.’
“Finally, around Day 10, Payne’s phone buzzed. Harden’s name flashed across the screen. He told Payne that he was hurting, physically but also emotionally, that the previous two years – multiple trades, multiple injuries, multiple playoff failures – had left him drained and deflated, that he was eager to put it all behind him.”