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Issue 17 Out Now

Zero Accountability

James Harden and the Houston Rockets have been in an ongoing battle throughout the offseason. He’s said to be unhappy with the direction the team is headed and feels as though the Rockets path to a championship is over.

Training camp kicked off on Tuesday, Harden was absent but attended rapper Lil Baby birthday bash in Atlanta on Thursday, first team practice was scheduled for Sunday. Harden had better things to do, such as continue to party with the rapper but this time footage leaked of the star in a Las Vegas strip club. Both participatory events, no mask was present!

As the practice for the Houston Rockets training camp waned on Sunday afternoon, news of their star player James Harden absent made headlines.

Rockets head coach Stephen Silas indicated that Harden would be at the team’s practice just two days prior and when he didn’t show, it came as a pleasant surprise to those within the organization.

“There is no timetable, as far as I know. It is a setback,”said Silas. “You want your best player to be here.”

For a rookie head coach to put up with this circus is quite ridiculous and gives critics even more evidence to point when discussing why Harden hasn’t been able to get over the hump to capture that elusive championship.

The lack of decency, professionalism, and decorum harden has shown one of the few African American coaches in a league that is made up of over 75 percent of black players is shameful. Silas waited for nearly 20 years for this moment.

Player empowerment is without question the most important aspect for black athletes playing professional sports, Harden requested a trade to a contender and has every right to, what’s not ok or right is him leaving his teammates and coaches to be asked the questions from the media he should be answering.

“I’m here to talk about PJ Tucker,” said the Rockets forward when asked about Harden’s whereabouts.

Make no mistake about it, Hardens not solely at fault for what’s currently happening in houston. Former general manager Daryl Morey shares a brunt of the problems the Rockets are having with their star. It was Morey more than anyone who believed that Harden could become a superstar. At the time no team was willing to give up many assets while also willing to give a sixth man a max contract.

The belief and investment Morey put into acquiring Harden skyrocketed both of their careers. Houston was a championship contender once again, Morey has become recognized as one of the NBAs best executives. Harden captured notoriety, superstar status, Adidas shoe deal worth over 200 million dollars and other multi million dollar endorsements.

With the accomplishment came expectations. The regular season play of the Rockets star guard is all time great. In the 2018–2019 season, Harden scored 30 plus points in 32 consecutive games, the most since Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain in 1962. Just as historically great of a player Harden is during the regular season, he’s also been a part of some of the most embarrassing moments in the league’s postseason history.

Every time adversity made its way to Hardens doorstep he couldn’t rise above his circumstances to deliver. Everytime the destination of another season was met, Harden could find someone else to blame and point the figure at.

The organization brought in running mates to pair with the beard at every turn. Dwight Howard was brought to town, the duo reached the conference finals in year two of the pairing but by year three the two players couldn’t co-exists. So is the case with Chris Paul, who you can make a case is Hardens best teammate during his entire eight year tenure in Houston. Rockets in the first year of the pairing set a franchise records in winning 65 games but Paul’s hamstring injury in game 5 of the 2018 conference finals ended any hope of Harden ever winning a championship in Houston.

Paul body in year two just as Dwight during his rocket tenure began to age. The Rockets heavy iso offense no longer suited the guard so he wanted to install more ball movement. Harden didn’t agree. Shams Charania of the Athletic in 2019 reported on the dispute.

“There was something of a clash of styles brewing throughout the Rockets season, with members of the team — most notably Paul having spirited discussions with Mike D’Antoni about the offense and pushing for more movement, league sources told The Athletic.

The team lost in game 6 in the postseason to the Warriors for the fourth time in five years. Paul had his best game of the year but by then it was too late and the bridge with Harden had already been burned.

“Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room..." sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium.

Harden in the very same postgame podium interview stated,” I know what we need to do." A few weeks later Chris Paul was traded for Harden’s best friend Russell Westbrook to Oklahoma in a deal that has stripped the organization of future assets. At every turn, every on court dysfunction, Harden was the last man left standing.

The Rockets organization at every turn has tried its best to please its star, they’ve got rid of a head coach and players who have ever questioned Harden as a leader and teammate. Just months ago when reports leaked of Harden wanting a trade citing not having organizational input is not only a lie but laughable.

Kelly Iko and David Aldridge of the Athletic, state, “sources indicate he’s felt that some team decisions have been made without substantial input from him whether they be signings, trades, or even hirings.”

To give Harden the benefit of the doubt he didn’t go on record and say such a thing but it’s quite interesting that his trade request along with Westbrook’s came right when a new regime entered the organization in Stephen Silas and Rockets longtime executive Rafael was promoted to general manager.

When the Paul trade went down in the summer of 2019, Morey slipped up, while admitting that Harden emphatically pushed for Westbrook while speaking with Jonathan Fiegan of the Houston Chronicle.

“James and I talk a lot,” Morey said. “We talked more.

He should be calling every day. We’re all in the same canoe rowing toward the same trophy. He is, I would say, the appropriate level of involved.”

“At one point, James asked me, ‘Why is it taking so long?’” Morey said. “I told him, ‘Dude, your trade took me five months.’”

Bending over backward, going all out to win to show your star player that you’ll do whatever it takes is admirable but also it can easily backfire when the assets you previously gave up you can’t get back in return.

The Rockets at least for the next four to five years are tapped out of great assets, Morey knew it himself so he resigned during the offseason. Well let him tell you he did it to spend more time with his family he missed so much. Oops but let’s see if the Philadelphia Sixers need a new President of Basketball Operation in the meantime.

If you type in the name Houston Rockets in the Google search engine you’re going to see reports that question the Rockets culture, the front office lack of holding Harden accountable. Morey treated Harden as if he was his child. Wanted to make him happy at every turn, but in the process Harden grew into a spoiled child who wouldn’t take no for an answer, which allowed him to dictate how the organization would be run for the present and future. At every turn instead of preaching accountability, Morey delivered in Harden’s case, the gospel. Good news of getting rid of anyone he deemed a problem.

Daryl is gone now, Harden is most likely next. Both had free reign to run the organization however they wanted until the assets ran its course and its that reason alone Houston should wait to trade Harden, to get as much back as possible in a future deal. To replenish their resources.

James Harden, Daryl Morey will forever be linked to one another, two individuals who dared to push the envelope and compete against the Kevin Durant era Golden State Warriors when everyone wanted to wait out their reign as an NBA championship powerhouse. They deserve exponential credit, they almost knocked them off and hadn’t Chris Paul stayed healthy the final two games of the conference finals, Houston would most likely be champions. We might’ve seen the greatest upset in sports since Buster Douglas knocked out Mike Tyson in the 10th round in 1990 , only this time Tyson got up and Douglas has paid the price of the repercussions ever since.

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