He wanted even more.
While sitting the entire fourth quarter, Harden watched as Houston showed on the video board he was only one point shy of his career high. Then, he had quite the response on the bench.
Is Harden too preoccupied with his scoring and individual accolades? Maybe. If a player let chasing MVP and scoring records take precedent over preparing for playoff success, he’d look a lot like Harden. This video is fodder for anyone predisposed to criticize him.
But I wouldn’t assume what’s going through his mind. Maybe he was upset about a shot he felt he should’ve made – especially after learning the significance. Maybe he was just joking around with an over-the-top reaction. Maybe he’s truly that deeply invested in his own numbers and bothered despite his team cruising to an easy victory.
The Rockets need Harden’s scoring, and his competitiveness to put up points can translate into playing with the necessary passion to get the job done. Many players care about their own stats while caring about winning. The best players accomplish both and find the right times to compromise.
The best argument for absolving Harden: He didn’t play in the fourth quarter. If he wanted to break his career high, he easily could have. Instead, he stayed on the bench to have this reaction.