Houston Rockets: How Allen Iverson paved the way for James Harden

Allen Iverson (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Allen Iverson (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /

Houston Rockets superstar James Harden sat down with Hall of Famer Allen Iverson and expressed his appreciation while also revealing career parallels.

The Reebok YouTube channel recently sat down with Houston Rockets guard James Harden and NBA Hall of Famer Allen Iverson to promote their new sneaker collaboration. In the discussion, Harden expressed how Iverson was somebody to gravitate towards while also explaining how he inspired him.

“Everything that I’m going through right now is what you went through,” said Harden. “Criticism, negative energy, negativity.” There’s no doubt that Allen Iverson was a polarizing figure in the early 2000’s NBA — from changing the dress code at postgame podiums to stepping over Tyronn Lue in the 2001 NBA Finals.

Iverson was heavily criticized for his demeanor, whether it was toward the media or other ways off the basketball court. At the time, Iverson would also be condemned for his style of play, mainly being accused of not being a team player.

How the Houston Rockets’ James Harden has faced similar criticisms

The similarities to today’s criticisms of Harden are astonishing. The word polarizing can apply to Harden just as much. Some appreciate his undeniable scoring, and some don’t consider him an elite athlete.

Much like Iverson, when it comes to media, Harden does not like to sugarcoat his answers, keeping it short and straight to the point. This leaves a bad taste in their mouths and contributes to their narrative of Harden being a troublesome teammate that lacks locker room leadership.

In comparing the most common words some of the more negative people label Iverson and Harden with on the court, number one would probably be selfish. Iverson was considered a ball hog, and the narrative tended to spike when his Philadelphia 76ers lost or when the duo of him and Carmelo Anthony failed to win a championship with the Denver Nuggets.

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What Iverson dealt with is similar to the narrative Harden faced after Chris Paul’s departure in 2019. After the duo failed to overcome the Golden State Warriors in two straight seasons, many critics put the blame primarily on Harden’s compatibility as a teammate.

In speaking with Iverson, Harden thanked him for letting players like him be themselves and added that when he’s gone, only then will people his impact in the NBA.

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Allen Iverson set an example of how to deal with the negativity the media presents. Unlike the media, fans of the Houston Rockets are incredibly supportive of The Beard and believe he will deliver a championship to Space City one day.