James Harden has quit
What James Harden is doing in the NBA right now has to be a different form of performance art.
"We're just not good enough - obviously chemical, talented, everything - and it was clear that these last couple of games were going to be," Harden told reporters after another poor performance in his team's fourth loss in five games. He ended his blunt press conference with the words: “I love this city. I've literally done everything I can. I mean this situation is insane. It's something I don't think can be fixed, so yeah, thanks. "
Let's unpack all this nonsense, starting with this statement, "I've literally done everything I can."
Listen man I see This whole season, played under the dark cloud of a raging pandemic, is a lot. But you, James Harden, can't possibly believe that you did it all because you literally didn't.
James Harden takes a torch to the Houston Rockets. (Steph Chambers / Getty Images)
I don't know how far back you want to go, but we might as well start at the beginning of the end, when you and Chris Paul formed the backcourt of a competitor. Somewhere in between your Houston Rockets, which opened two golden opportunities to piss off the Golden State Warriors, when you didn't have the ball, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon, you "basically decided not to join the Rockets offensive," which understandably annoyed Paul.
You issued an "he or I" edict on Houston's Front Office in June 2019 when your relationship with Paul became "unsaved" according to Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill, and you pushed for the deal that brought your friend Russell Westbrook back and the pledged franchise future. Just that your laissez-faire approach to aspects that weren't about you also understandably annoyed him, which led to his trade request.
You also called for a deal after the organization created entire rosters suitable for conflict around you. Not only did your inability to team up with Paul shut one window, but you encouraged the missiles to bleed their drafts dry just so you can repeat the same mistakes with Westbrook and close another. Take an ounce of ownership to your role by both missing your championship goals and decimating a competitor.
When the Rockets didn't give in to your needs right away, largely because your track record made it hard for them to find the same value in the commercial market, you called off your first month of basketball work and prioritized the Atlanta and Las Vegas partying over building Chemistry with your new trainer and teammate.
You are so remarkably talented that on your debut of the season you lost 44 points and 17 assists despite being visibly out of shape and unable to train. But here you are, repeating your story all over again.
Your missiles have talent. Christian Wood was a revelation. John Wall looked surprisingly handsome for someone who hasn't played in two years. You have won 50+ games with the likes of P. J. Tucker, Eric Gordon, Danuel House and Ben McLemore. There's no excuse for your missiles to be scratching the bottom of the leaderboard. But you have no interest in being “good enough” with this roster. Just admit it. Don't undermine your teammates again because you need to know that you haven't done all you can.
They treat Wall the same as Paul and Westbrook, only worse. When the ball finds it, your hands fall on your sides, you stand 30 feet from the hoop motionless, and you - a four-year-old MVP candidate under the first three years - take yourself out of the game. Of those who have played more than 11 minutes in the NBA this season, your average on-court speed of 3.61 mph is the slowest in the league.
You're slower on defense. Despite your time on the half-court line, you will still be beaten in transition. It was a fun game waiting for you to appear on the screen after a miss or turnover.
After consecutive losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, you said, "We are honestly not even close to this team" and maybe it is high time you looked in a mirror. Maybe - just maybe - it's you who, frankly, isn't even close to LeBron James. There is no shame in that. There was only one man in history. And maybe that's why you want to join another pre-made competitor, but more than your jersey needs to change.
You were once the guy who looked at the mighty warriors and thought I got that. Where did he go? I understand again. They are one of the greatest offensive weapons in NBA history. It can be frustrating to keep playing in the playoffs after such a heavy load on the regular season. That doesn't mean you should stop trying. Or at least, if you want to quit, don't take it for your teammates.
It's no coincidence that this four-game streak without more than 20 points is your longest in Houston.
As Wall said that night, you spat on the ashes of a team that you had already set alight: “When one to fifteen guys are all on the same page and commit and know their role and know what to make of it, and that is to be won, everything will be fine. But when you have certain people in the mix who don't all want to buy themselves in as one, doing something special or good as a basketball team will be difficult. "
Teammate DeMarcus Cousins added, "The disrespect started long before any interview."
DeMarcus Cousins: "I'm interested in playing with John Wall, to be brutally honest. ... The (hard) disrespect started a long time ago. It's not something that, as you know, started suddenly last night It's totally unfair to the other guys in the locker room. "
- Sam Amick (@sam_amick) January 13, 2021
Both sides agreed that it was inadvisable for Harden to come to practice on Wednesday and the Rockets are escalating trade discussions, with the Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons being the primary target, according to Marc Stein of the New York Times. Why former Houston Philadelphia manager Daryl Morey would like to see Harden again at this point is a mystery to me and proof of how remarkable a player can be. If Simmons is on the table, it is equally puzzling why the rockets haven't pulled the trigger until now.
So yeah, this situation is insane. It cannot be fixed. All because you, James Harden, reaped what you sown. It sure seems like you will get your wish soon, the legacy you leave in Houston is doomed.
- - - - - - -
Ben Rohrbach works for Yahoo Sports. Do you have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach
More from Yahoo Sports:
Kyrie sits in the Zoom Call campaign while Nets play without him
Harden's frustrations with Houston seem to be boiling over
Texans are supposed to be interviewing Chiefs OC Bieniemy after all
Rapinoe condemns the violence of the Capitol of the "white supremacists"
Mets avoid arb with 7 players, including Lindor, Conforto
Selena Gomez elaborates on calling out Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg: 'I could not handle what I was seeing'
China urged to tap RCEP trade deal for future digital payments system as US sanctions loom
Trump plans military-style send-off for himself on Inauguration Day
WNBA free agency tracker: Candace Parker, Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi big names on UFA list
UTZ CEO on its ‘good acquirer’ reputation after $25M Vitner’s deal