James Harden spoke on Media Day regarding his new role as the Houston Rockets leader, his teammates and why this year’s squad is so much more cohesive.
The Elephant in the Room:
As James Harden calmly spoke to the assembled journalists on Media Day one reporter addressed the elephant in the room. Each player who had taken the microphone had spoken of the team chemistry, happiness and desire to be great. So, this reporter wanted to know why this same attitude was missing last season. After all the Rockets were coming off a Western Conference Finals berth with key players out injured. Surely, the taste of getting ever so close to the finals had been enough to motivate and inspire them in the off season, didn’t it?
One pundit (possibly the same reporter) took umbridge with the word “vibe” which Trevor Ariza, and others also used.
Harden like all others before him evading the question citing Kevin McHale’s dismissal (like coach could have forced Harden to come to camp in shape). Though Harden didn’t directly say it the obvious relationship issues between himself and Dwight Howard were hanging in the air.
Don’t get me wrong, Harden is substantially younger than Howard who had played in a Finals when in Orlando. Perhaps that’s why the tension grew between them. It’s possible Harden was looking for Howard to take the leadership role and if not, at least a tutoring role. Neither ever seemed to transpire during Howard’s tenure.
Taking the Leadership Reigns:
Ultimately the steps taken by Harden to coordinate mini training camps in Miami and Vegas so the team could build their chemistry on and off the court need to be applauded. Harden got his wish with the departures of McHale and Howard. But the fact he dove in to do his part after the fact should be recognized. It does seem like the players and coaching staff are elucidating rather obnoxiously, but in comparison to what Howard did during his time in Houston pales in comparison.
— Space City Scoop (@SpaceCity_Scoop) September 29, 2016
Asked what he would call a successful season Harden deadpanned “Championship”. The reporter retorted “Seriously?” Harden quipped back “seriously” after taking a beat he noted the improved talent on the team.
Mar 9, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) and forward Clint Capela (15) talk during a break in the second half against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Houston Rockets won 118-104. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Health: Says he is 100 percent healthy.
After a difficult and tumultuous year Harden says he learned it’s how to deal with adversity followed by how he responds is more a measure of who he is.
Insight on Teammates and Coaching Staff:
Harden cited Jeff Bzdelik for teaching him fundamentals and basic defensive principles which he felt the team was lacking in previous seasons.
said they will run through a wall for him, said it gives him confidence and pushes him to be worthy of that loyalty.
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The New Era:
- Commented that last year was like a whirl wind citing it as a bad year overall that seemed to fly by while he was standing watching it.
- On his new found step up to the dominant leader James noted he needed to improve himself on and off the court. Harden said there were things he could control that he needed to be doing a better job of.
- An obvious difference in James Harden is that he wants to be held accountable by everyone on the team regardless of whether it’s the rookie calling him out.
- Harden took the shunning of not making any All NBA team as motivation. He did say when is the last time someone went 29 (points), 7 (assists) and 6 (rebounds) didn’t make one of those teams. It’s clear the snub fueled him.
- Harden also cited his days in Oklahoma City as a learning ground. How that squad conducted itself on and off the court is the template he appears to be using over his predecessor (Howard).
- Though Harden never spoke Howard’s name it was obvious he intends to employ a different style. Communication and accountability appear to be key among his goals.
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SCS video diary series will offer insight from Media Day, Training Camp as well as bring you tidbits to allow you to become more familiar with new players.