James Harden has almost become a different player this NBA season for the Brooklyn Nets. He went from being a guy who just played iso ball and scored at will for the Houston Rockets to a facilitator on one of the NBA’s best teams with the Nets. However, Harden still has his critics, including former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker, who recently made some interesting comments about the former league MVP. Harden later responded to Walker, but ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith wasn’t too happy with his response. In fact, he told him that he needs to “stop being so damn sensitive.”
James Harden fired back at former NBA All-Star Antoine Walker
Antoine Walker earned three All-Star selections in his career and averaged as many as 23.4 points per game in 2000-01 and 10.2 rebounds in 1997-98. He also even won an NBA championship with the Miami Heat in 2006. So, when he talks basketball, he knows what he’s saying. But his recent comments about former NBA MVP James Harden were interesting.
“I’m not a James Harden guy, and it’s not personal but you can’t win with that style,” Walker said on the All Things Covered podcast, according to NBC Sports. “… Any time it takes a guy six, seven, eight dribbles to get to where he has to go, that’s a problem. It works today because it’s more of a pick-and-roll league, so he gets away with a lot of things now, but I would not leverage my future for James Harden.”
Harden has since responded.
“There’s pick-and-rolls that happen in basketball, there’s isolations that happen in basketball, and I do both; I don’t really understand what that means,” Harden said, per ESPN. “Stuff like that I don’t even pay attention to, especially somebody that has no credibility.”
Stephen A. Smith wasn’t fond of Harden’s comments.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith wants him to ‘stop being so damn sensitive’
Stephen A. Smith discussed Walker and Harden’s comments on the March 8 episode of First Take on ESPN, and he initially stuck up for Harden when it came to what Walker said.
“I don’t agree with his opinion about James Harden; let me be very, very clear,” Smith said, per ESPN. “I think that’s the James Harden in Houston he was talking about. I think if you’re watching James Harden play in Brooklyn: James Harden is a top league MVP candidate. He has been nothing short of sensational.”
However, Smith was very critical of what Harden had to say.
“A simple ‘I disagree with Antoine Walker’ would have sufficed,” Smith said. “To sit up there and say that Antoine Walker has no credibility is false. … The brother knows what he’s talking about; it’s just in this particular situation I just respectfully disagree with him. But Antoine Walker is not absent of credibility, and a lot of times, these guys need to stop being so damn sensitive, especially against their own. Antoine Walker is a member of the NBA fraternity. He knows basketball. He knows what he’s talking about.”
Smith made some good points. Antoine Walker’s opinion about James Harden is probably wrong, but what he said did not justify Harden attacking the former NBA All-Star.
No matter who was right or wrong, though, what we do know is that Harden and the Nets are looking like a team that can win an NBA championship.
James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets look ready to win an NBA championship
James Harden and the Nets went into the NBA All-Star break as one of the NBA’s hottest teams. They had won 10 of their last 11 games, which helped them improve to 24-13 and climb up to second place in the Eastern Conference. This all happened with Kevin Durant only playing in one of those games, too.
Now, they come out of the All-Star break not only with their big three, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving but they also recently added former NBA All-Star Blake Griffin. With this roster, they are easily the favorites to win the title.
Harden has arguably been playing the best basketball of his career with the Nets, too. In 23 games in Brooklyn, Harden is averaging 25.5 points per game, 11.4 assists, and 8.7 rebounds. He is also shooting what would be career-highs in field goal percentage (49.7%) and 3-point shooting percentage (42.2%). Additionally, with the eight games that he played on the Rockets added to his totals, Harden is leading the NBA in total assists per game this season.
Whether you like the way James Harden plays or not, he and the Brooklyn Nets appear to be ready to win an NBA championship. We’ll see if they can do it.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference