James Harden – after flaunting the NBA’s coronavirus protocols to party and arriving late – joined a Rockets team with other players who cared about this season in Houston. But Harden wanted to be traded. So, he quarreled with teammates during practice and publicly declared the Rockets to be broken beyond repair.
Harden then got his desired trade to the Nets.
How does Harden reflect on his Rockets exit now?
Harden, via ESPN:
I don’t like it at all, because that’s not who I am. The drama, the extra whatever you want to call it, the negativity – for me, I don’t really like negative energy. It’s draining. So, I don’t like how it necessarily happened. I feel like it could have happened a lot smoother, a lot easier. But it is what it is.
In hindsight, would Harden have done anything differently?
No. No, because I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful. I wasn’t trying to be selfish. I feel like the front office knew where I stood and what I wanted. Apologize for how it went down, but I guess I had to do what I had to do in order to get where I wanted to go.
This is a far more accurate answer from Harden, who previously claimed he didn’t disrespect anyone on his way out in Houston. I do believe Harden’s primary motivation wasn’t to be disrespectful, and I believe he was uncomfortable acting out in that way. But he absolutely disrespected his teammates and other members of the Rockets organization.
Which paid off for him.
Houston was reportedly increasingly content to hold Harden longer. Making a mess was his best way out, and he got to a better situation in Brooklyn.
It’s not pretty. Contrary to what Harden said, it’s also selfish (which is OK sometimes). But the best way to get a trade request granted is to becoming belligerent. That’s how players like Harden gain leverage.
And it’s why – as ugly as it got for a bit – he wouldn’t do anything differently.