The last scenario for how the Harden situation plays out is a tried-and-true method that the one-time MVP has employed in other cities when things weren’t going in the direction he wanted. When he wanted out of Houston back in 2021, Harden showed up to his preseason debut looking out of shape and the internet trolls piled on the hate. He was compared to Santa Claus as rumors started circulating that he skipped the first week of training camp to party in Atlanta. It was no secret he was angling for a trade to Brooklyn where he could team up with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Harden, of course, eventually got his wish.
One year later, Harden pulled a similar stunt in Brooklyn and Durant called him out on it which predictably rubbed him the wrong way. Durant confronted Harden about his conditioning, then the wheels really started falling off the bus. Harden pushed back and cited his routine of running the stadium stairs before and after games. He was also recovering from a Grade 2 hamstring strain at the time. Whatever the case, the strategy worked. Harden was sent packing to the Sixers.
“I’m a workaholic so just not being able to put the work in like I normally do was frustrating,” Harden told reporters after the Sixers lost to the Bucks on October 20, 2022. “A lot of people don’t see all the work that I put in, it’s … I’m a workaholic and I love being in the gym and I love the game of basketball, so I’ll continue to do that. For me, it’s not even about the individual. Individual is great but I’ll do whatever it takes for the betterment of the team — all of us need to be playing at a high level and I think that’s part of my job.”
What comes next? Your guess is as good as mine, but I am afraid Ramona Shelbourne is right and this situation is unfortunately just getting started.