James Harden is Ruining Basketball
I was on the Lavallee Sports Take Pod last night and I went on a rant about how James Harden is ruining basketball and I wanted to take an opportunity to elaborate. If you get a chance to listen, we cover a lot of material in this episode.
James Harden is (unless Anthony Davis continues his run of 40/15 stat lines and the Pels make a playoff push) without question the runaway MVP this season. His numbers this year and the way the Rockets have been simply toying with the other teams in the league night to night is one of the most impressive season-long performances I have ever witnessed in my 20+ years of watching NBA basketball.
Hardens passing, forays to the rim and ridiculous step back 3's have been a revelation in what a single player is capable of on the basketball court in the modern era. With that said, he is also simultaneously ruining the game of basketball.
RUINING THE GAME.
I loathe the Barkley school of 'back in my day, basketball was tough' because if Charles played today he would have to drop 30 pounds from his playing weight just to get up and down the floor for 30 minutes a night. The speed and athleticism in todays NBA in unparalleled when compared to past generations and while the rules have changed the physical nature of the game, it has re-centered the league around skill and basketball IQ which overall has benefitted the game.
The problem, and where I do agree with Barkley and the 90's superstars is that with the way the rules prevent NBA defenders from making basically ANY contact with an offensive player, much the way that the NFL has made it nearly impossible for a corner to mark a receiver without getting a PI call, it is almost impossible to slow down a player like Harden. If Harden played in the 90's guys would get in his shorts, body him up, hand check the shit out of him and he would have to work much harder for buckets.
More importantly, and the main reason I believe Harden is ruining basketball, is his addiction to creating/faking bullshit contact and chucking absolute garbage at the basket. Here are a few examples:
If you need more evidence, just google James Harden Cheap Fouls. You could spend hours watching Harden be an absolute chump on the court in a manner that would get you jumped at any rec basketball court in America.
Almost worse than the fact that Harden is gaming the system in a way that makes it literally impossible to defend him is the fact that the NBA and NBA Officials are allowing him to make a mockery of the game.
The byproduct of these bullshit fouls is that you can't guard Harden tightly or with any physicality at all which means he's free to either snake his way to the rim or create space and hit one of his deadly step-back 3's.
James Harden is ruining Basketball and the Commish is the only one who can stop him.