James Harden

James Harden receives flopping warning from league (VIDEO)


We’re less than two weeks into the NBA season and James Harden has become the sixth NBA player to get a flopping warning from the league. Guys are really setting a fast pace here out of the gate this year.

Harden’s came in the third quarter against the Trail Blazers Tuesday (you can see the video here or below). Harden pump faked and went up for an elbow jumper over Wes Mathews, one where Mathews tries to face guard Harden a little — but Harden goes to the ground and sold it like he had been punched. It worked, Harden got the foul call, but now he gets a warning as well.

If he is caught again there will be a $5,000 fine for Harden. Which is basically a slap on the wrist and doesn’t stop anybody from flopping, but we knew that already.

Harden joins fellow NBA stars Kevin Love and John Wall in getting flopping warnings early this season. They’re trendsetters.

James Harden: “I am the best player in the league. I believe that.”

James Harden, Stephen Curry
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James Harden was the MVP last season — if you ask his fellow NBA players.

The traditional award (based on a media vote) went to Stephen Curry (in the closest vote in four years), and that was the right call (in my mind). But from the time it happened Harden did not buy it. And he still doesn’t buy it. In the least — and he’s using that as fuel for this season. That’s what he told Fran Blinebury over at NBA.com.

“I am the best player in the league. I believe that,” he said. “I thought I was last year, too.”

Well, it’s a more realistic claim than Paul George’s.

“But that award means most valuable to your team. We finished second in the West, which nobody thought we were going to do at the beginning of the year even when everybody was healthy. We were near the top in having the most injuries. We won our division in a division where every single team made the playoffs.

“There’s so many factors. I led the league in total points scored, minutes played. Like I said, I’m not taking anything away from Steph, but I felt I deserved the Most Valuable Player. That stays with me.”

That’s very Kobe Bryant of you to turn that into fuel. Defining the MVP Award is an annual discussion that nobody agrees on.

I could get into how Harden was the old-school, traditional stats MVP, how that ignores how Steve Kerr used Curry, and how that opened up the Warriors’ offense to championship levels. Curry put up numbers, but he was also the distraction, the bright star that Kerr used to open up looks for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others. Curry’s strength was not just what he did with the ball in his hands, but his gravity to draw defenders even when he didn’t. Did the Warriors stay healthier than the Rockets? No doubt. Should Curry be penalized for that?

It’s simple for Harden — if he can put up those numbers again, if he can be the fulcrum of a top offense, he will be in the discussion for MVP again. And, if he can lead the Rockets beyond the conference finals, nobody will talk about that MVP snub anyway.