December 6, 2022

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The James Harden Paradox: Fading off the Sixers' loss is a blast that flashes both sides of a brilliant career arc

The James Harden Paradox: Fading off the Sixers’ loss is a blast that flashes both sides of a brilliant career arc

That was classic James Harden In both ways the paradox tends to emerge from itself. As a historically great player, and for results that go beyond individual trophies, as an unsettling player on a historical scale.

In the Philadelphia 76ers decadence at hand Brooklyn Networks In this 129-100 defeat Thursday night, Harden shed a sparkle on both sides of the trajectory of his brilliant career, and all the odds—too good or too disappointing—have yet to be carried out.

You know the back story: the trade that sent Harden to Philly because of the disgruntled star Ben SimmonsPlus Seth CarreyAnd the Andre Drummond and Project Picks, which sparked an already fierce competition in the Eastern Conference.

Although Simmons hasn’t played this season yet, despite the trade he’s forced, his arrival at his old stadiums in streetwear set the tone for the NBA spotlight that brilliantly caught on grueling feel, mutual stars, former friends turned rivals and all manner of soap. Other – Drama dripping from any competition now features these two teams.

Ticket prices were expensive. The arena shook. Watch the entire league. And the deciding atmosphere fueled a match that had all the signs of a very big and very important deal.

Enter Harden, and both sides of his confusing coin.

Early on, just five minutes into the game, Harden hit a three-pointer that put him in place as an all-time top scorer. The Trey was number 2561 in his career, Push him in front of Reggie Miller For the third time ever in the NBA records.

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It was one dagger in a career made of them, which brought Harden the best player, several scoring titles and the star weight one would need if, like Beard, one plans to throw his weight over and over to force them out. team to team.

He is an extraordinary offensive talent.

Which is why his tendency at times – as on this night – to turn big moments and big games into murder, triumph understatement, and the opposite of his best self also makes him historically disappointing, at least for now.

Because in the midst of that date Thursday night, Harden laid an egg. giant. His box-score plus-min-30 points don’t tell the full story: 11 points in a 3-of-17 shootout and a Box-Score plus-min-30 seem bad enough.

The deeper truth is that Harden was worse in the early stages of the game, when his sheer awfulness helped the nets to lead 40-23 in the first quarter. The match ended early, along with Harden’s self-confidence and ostentation. This was a battle of wills between two proud teams, and Harden vanished before entering her third class.

Harden is great. His record speaks of that. Harden is also a very big question mark for the post-season — or, less optimistically, a landmine in waiting.

Take Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals back in 2018, when it was Houston Rockets, then led by Harden, turned the series’ 3-2 lead into an ugly defeat. Match 7 is when Harden, who played 12 of 29 and 2 of 13 of three, played with such panic and fear that he spread defeatism through this team the way he normally would.

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That night, “led” by Harden, Houston at one point missed 27 consecutive three-pointers. twenty seven. Houston came home, and the Warriors Went to the address.

Solidarity supporters will protest: Hatter! It’s too good–awesome, even–for that irony.

Harden skeptics will say: Look! He did it again against the net, that style of fading out when the moments get big.

Both opinions have the truth, just as both Hardins were present Thursday night against Brooklyn. The historically great player, and the man, of a very great person, is insanely capable of falling apart, and taking his team with him.

There is more context and nuance in all of this than just one game. There’s the fact that since Harden’s arrival, the Sixers have won five straight times before the Nets game. There’s the fact that Brooklyn played a stifling defense on Thursday, they were hard-pressed to emulate it often enough to say it was little more than an emotionally charged aberration. A very important fact is that the Sixers are still well positioned in the crowded Eastern Conference standings, while the Networks remain in that dangerous spot of the card game.

There is the fact that it was just one match.

But Harden – the great man who set records, the man from Thursday night who just couldn’t handle this charged atmosphere – will face in the coming months and years a unique reality that will merge these two parts into one.

Either he wins a championship to enhance his greatness in a really important way, or he’s the guy who sets records and dazzles with stats – all while failing, at the same time, at what really needs to be done.

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