The Houston Rockets had an opportunity Monday night to make the Golden State Warriors sweat a little bit. The Warriors didn’t have Steph Curry, who was out with a sprained ankle, and the Rockets had a chance to steal home-court advantage in their first-round playoff series.
Instead, they lost, 115-106. James Harden finished with a team-high 28 points and a game-high 11 assists, but he also shot 7-of-19 from the floor, including 1-of-8 from three-point range, and committed five turnovers to go along with five fouls. He played with little to no urgency, seemingly indifferent toward the result.
At this point, Brandon Tierney has seen enough.
“Here’s a guy who’s positioned as a superstar who you couldn’t pay me to have on my team,” Tierney said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “James Harden is not a winner.”
After the game, Harden maintained that the Rockets played okay; they just didn’t win.
That made Tierney think: Can you imagine Isiah Thomas losing to the Celtics without Larry Bird and then saying the Bad Boy Pistons played okay? Can you imagine Chris Webber losing to the Lakers without Shaquille O’Neal and saying the Kings played okay?
No, you can’t.
“You can keep James Harden,” Tierney said. “I am so tired of hearing about James Harden. The guy is so disinterested. Saturday, he didn’t take a single free throw, which tells you all you need to know. He’s living outside, he’s not attacking the rim, (which), to his credit, he generally does pretty well. But he’s got an aversion to defense. He’s all flash and he’s no substance.
“This reflects the way we perceive the modern athlete,” Tierney continued. “Adidas invests $200 million in a guy that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about winning – because he doesn’t. Because if you did, at the very basic level, oh, I don’t know, you actually run back in transition. There’s multiple vines from him last night. He doesn’t even try to keep somebody in front of him. He’s a joke. I’m so tired of James Harden.”
O’Neal, by the way, criticized Harden for his leadership skills – or lack thereof. Harden, Shaq said, doesn’t do the little things that a team needs to do to win – and if Harden doesn’t do it, no one else on the team will, either.
Worth noting, Tierney added, is that we’re not in the dog days of the NBA. It’s not the day after Thanksgiving or Christmas. The Rockets aren’t playing a bottom-feeder. They’re playing the defending NBA champions, who were without the league MVP, and they had a chance to steal home-court advantage.
Only they didn’t.
Some leaders, such as Kobe Bryant, could be derisive and divisive, but Bryant was at least a fierce competitor. But Harden? Harden doesn’t seem to care.
“Does anybody look at James Harden and think this guy’s actually trying his best?” Tierney asked. “Honestly, I don’t. I really don’t. He’s 26. You would think that this is a guy you would want to put your franchise on. Give me a team like the Hawks, who might not have that transcendent star – and I’ll put that in quotes. They don’t have anybody that gets the love nationally like a Harden does. I just can’t watch this guy anymore. It’s not championship-level basketball. It’s not. So that’s really my takeaway from last night. I’m just tired of James Harden. I really am.”