Why James Harden Wants to Be Compared With Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Jordan

James Harden has been one of the most dominant forces in the NBA in recent years. Much of this dominance stems from his ability to seemingly score the ball at will. As a result, he’s been the scoring leader in the last two seasons, in addition to taking home the 2017-2018 MVP award. By most accounts, Harden’s place in the pantheon of all-time greats has already been secured.

Yet one of Harden’s key traits is a dedication to constant improvement. He understands that, in order to maintain his elite status, he must continue refining his offensive game. Recent social media posts revealed that Harden has been spending his off-season honing a truly unstoppable move — a one-legged, step-back 3-pointer. This article explores the motivations behind Harden’s new move and how he hopes it’ll help him be compared to the likes of Michael Jordan and Dirk Nowitzki.

Securing his legacy

Some of the greatest NBA stars of all time have carved their path to Hall of Fame glory thanks to a signature move. Think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s patented skyhook or Dirk Nowitzki’s equally lethal one-footed step-back jumper.

We can’t forget how Michael Jordan single-handedly revolutionized the NBA playbook thanks to his killer fadeaway. Likewise, Tim Hardaway, Allen Iverson, and Kobe Bryant all perfected lethal versions of the crossover.

James Harden understands how impactful a signature move can be when it comes to securing a long-term legacy. A signature move ensures that a player remains relevant and easily identifiable long after their playing days are done.

Harden is surely motivated by this desire. He even acknowledged as much in a recent interview, stating that he wanted the one-legged three to be “one of those moves that last forever.”

Having a signature move will create a legacy that lasts forever. If this new shot becomes effective enough, it will surely have a place next to the skyhook and crossover.

Beating the defense

James Harden is already known for his nearly unstoppable step-back three-point shot. He has been carving up defenders with the move for the last several years. Yet opposing players — and coaches — have grown a lot savvier when it comes to defending him. As more of them continue to adapt to his rhythms, it will become harder for him to maintain a competitive edge.

Incorporating a new wrinkle into his three-point shot ensures that he remains one step ahead of his defenders, literally. By launching off of just one foot, he can begin his shooting motion a split-second quicker, instead of waiting to get both feet planted before jumping. In essence, the move allows him to rise up for running three-point shots. 

On its own, a shot this hard to guard would make any player a significant shooting threat. But when coupled with Harden’s elite dribbling skills and well-honed step-back abilities, the move takes on truly terrifying potential.

Many analysts have already predicted that, if Harden gets comfortable enough to start unleashing the move regularly, he will be one of the primary contenders for next season’s MVP award.

James Harden stays creative

The upcoming season will be James Harden’s 11th in the NBA. That’s a lot of time to spend doing any job, especially when you consider all of the postseason games Harden has played in that time. After that amount of time, it can be hard for even the best players to maintain a competitive attitude and remain mentally engaged with the game.

Setting personal goals is one of the most effective ways for an NBA player to keep their head in the game. In Harden’s case, taking a creative approach to developing new shots seems to be a viable source of inspiration. This type of creative is a common trait among the players that Harden hopes to be compared to.

According to his own comments, Harden doesn’t want to stay exactly the same. He wants to grow and develop creative new ways to hone his game.

Needless to say, if he can successfully introduce his one-legged three into his NBA game, he will have succeeded at the goal in one of the most impressive ways possible.