The Houston Rcokets are counting on James Harden to carry a heavy burden this season, and the All-Star guard says he’s up for the challenge.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) October 4, 2016
Harden skipped the Olympics this summer to get ready for the 2016-17 NBA campaign.
“I have made the sacrifice that I want to do whatever it takes to win, so it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t go to the Olympics this summer,” Harden said. “It was one of the toughest decisions that I’ve ever made in my life. For my legacy here in Houston and in the NBA, I thought it was important.”
As franchise players go, he fits the most important criteria: He’s always available, always balling. Across the past two seasons, Harden has played 185 out of 186 regular-season and playoff games, including 38.1 minutes per game in 2015-16. […] “You can say [the perception] is frustrating, or you can look at it and say, ‘OK, what if I play 65 games and miss 17 games. Play 32 minutes a game. And look like the best player ever.’ I wish I could, but in this instance, I’m here to play and do what I do. We don’t have … listen, I can’t sit out games. My teammates, my coaches, this organization needs me on that floor.”
In the end, this is why the Harden-D’Antoni relationship has to be at the core of the Rockets’ season. For D’Antoni’s system to flourish, it needs Harden to be the engine. Looking back in Los Angeles and New York, D’Antoni has told The Vertical that he could’ve been more proactive in building stronger bonds with star players Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. He promised himself – and Rockets management – that wouldn’t happen with Harden. […] “Our communication has been strong,” Harden said. “I want to learn. I want to figure it out. Me calling him, texting him, going into his office, that’s happened already several times. My pride is definitely to the side. If I’ve got a problem – if I’ve got a question – I’m going to talk to him about it.”