James Harden Clears Air on Nets Divorce, ‘Bad Teammate’ Rumors

James Harden

Getty James Harden scored 27 points and dished out 12 dimes in his Philadelphia 76ers' debut.

Watching James Harden and Joel Embiid share the basketball and rack up points at will was pure poetry in motion. Things are going incredibly well one game into the newest “Process” experiment. Harden is the best sidekick Embiid has ever had.

The Philadelphia 76ers scored a 133-102 blowout win on Friday night in Harden’s debut. He zigged when Embiid zagged. He shared the ball with unselfish abandon, then put on a shooting clinic to close it out in the fourth quarter. Harden was the consummate teammate, quickly shedding the unfair “diva” reputation picked up from controversial stops in Houston and Brooklyn.

“I don’t know why,” Harden said (via Rich Hofmann) when asked why the bad teammate label gets thrown on him. “That’s for the media. The media say that. I feel like I’m one of the best teammates that the NBA’s seen, on the court and off the court.”

Embiid said he “never had this” at any point in his career. The Sixers’ big man took a long pull from a water bottle at his post-game press conference, draining it until the plastic crinkled, then looked at Harden and said: “That’s good.” The two men busted out laughing, seemingly putting the entire NBA on notice.

“We’re unselfish, we just want to win,” Harden said, via The Associated Press. “We’ve got guys, from top to bottom, that it feels that way on the court. Great things are going to happen more times than not.”

The latest Sixers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Sixers newsletter here!

Join Heavy on Sixers!

Harden on Nets’ Divorce: ‘Whatever Happened Happened’

Much has been made of Harden bailing on the Brooklyn Nets prior to the All-Star break. He was fighting a tight left hamstring, but speculation ran wild over him faking the injury as his frustrations with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant festered. The Nets were losing games at a record clip, too. Harden wanted out.

“It doesn’t mean that I’m a bad teammate,” Harden said on Friday night. “Me, personally, I feel like I needed to do what’s best for my career, and help myself and be happy. It doesn’t harp on whether I’m a bad teammate or not.”

Harden admitted that Irving’s refusal to get vaccinated against COVID-19 “impacted” the Nets’ poor play. He couldn’t play in any home games in Brooklyn because of it. Still, he called the decision to leave his previous two franchises a mutual parting of ways.

“I mean, it wasn’t planned like this,” Harden said during his introductory presser in Philly. “Fourteen months ago, I didn’t see myself on three different teams but we are where we are here today and I’m happy. Last year, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of stress, but that’s all in the past, whatever. I’m excited, I’m healthy, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime.”

Next Up, New York Knicks

Philly fans will have to wait a few more days before seeing Harden up-close-and-personal. The Sixers take on the New York Knicks on Sunday (February 27) at Madison Square Garden before returning home on March 2.

Harden will make his Philly debut against the Knicks (yes, again) at Wells Fargo Center at 7:30 p.m. in a nationally televised ESPN game. Ticket prices have already sky-rocketed with the cheapest bleacher seat going for $80. Standing room only tickers are selling for $67. “Harden Mania” has hit the City of Brotherly Love.

Read More
Comment Here
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x