Young Sixers Star Sounds off on ‘Skinny James’ Harden

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers

Getty Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before: a Philadelphia 76ers star posting awe-inspiring summer workout photos. AGH!

Okay, maybe the photos themselves aren’t hurtful, but the lack of any follow-through during the season by some (*ahem* Ben Simmons) was very much a stab in the back.

But it’s still summer. And the only guarantees for a Sixers fan’s summer are popsicles, top-rated rookies suffering season-long injuries, and the obligatory workout hype picture/video.

This time, it’s James Harden’s turn to quell any fears over his health via social media.

Over the last two seasons, Harden faced significant criticism over his lifestyle and fitness. This summer, however, Harden appears to be taking responsibility for his conditioning.

Harden: ‘I been busy working’

On August 26, Harden posted a series of pics straight from the lab. And either he ran through a sprinkler right before snapping the photographs, or he’d been in the gym for a while.

This isn’t the first time Harden’s taken to social media to allay concerns about his fitness.

In May, Harden’s trainer Chuck Ellis posted an update featuring Harden on the court. In another tweet, Harden was described as “slim and trim” after a workout.

Head coach Doc Rivers, for his part, isn’t too concerned about Harden’s conditioning. If anything, he’s enthusiastic about it.

“[Harden’s offseason training has] been great,” explained Rivers on an episode of The VC Show With Vince Carter. “He’s working — he’s working his butt off. I think about nine of the guys were in town last week, and they worked out every day together. When you start seeing that kind of stuff, that’s the guys. That’s the players getting each other. When you see that, that’s a good sign. He works out with our development guys, and they report back that he’s in great shape.”

The Sixers will need Harden to come back ready to perform like his old self. He should continue to be a major playmaker for the Sixers next season, a position he’s well-equipped to take. According to SIS Hoops, Harden was third in the league at creating high-quality shots last season, with 25.4 per 100 possessions.

Tyrese Maxey Weighs In on Harden’s Summer

Harden’s teammate, Tyrese Maxey, couldn’t help but discuss the former’s fitness goals.

During a Phillies-Reds game last week, Maxey and Phils legend and broadcaster John Kruk cracked up over Maxey sharing seats with Harden and Joel Embiid.

Maxey: You know, the seats aren’t bad. Sometimes I have to sit between Joel and James and uh, those are the seats that are bad.

Kruk: Well, maybe not so much this year. James is in shape.

Maxey: Oh yeah true, exactly, exactly. Skinny James.

Oh, how great it will be for fans to show up to Wells Fargo in “Skinny James” t-shirts.

On the bright side, at least Harden seems to be taking his fitness seriously on and off the court. In a video from the former MVP’s birthday, he dumped a massive cake overboard rather than gobble it down. 

These are all reassuring signs. But after being fooled countless times in the past, it’s fair to have a healthy dose of cautiousness.

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