Friday was James Harden’s introductory press conference with the Brooklyn Nets, which gave him his first opportunity to explain his side of what went wrong in Houston following one of the more eventful, and entertaining, exits for a star player in recent memory.
Part of his end there included his new teammates John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins throwing some shade in his direction, as they complained in subtle and overt ways about him giving up on the team and wanting out. Wall complained of Harden not buying in and said that hurt the team. Cousins went as far as to say Harden’s actions were «disrespectful.»
Harden was asked about it and took issue with what Cousins said in particular.
«I wasn’t disrespectful to anyone. Those guys had just got there to Houston. I’d been there for a very long time,» he told reporters in a teleconference.
«I’ve been through all the ups and downs with that organization and I wasn’t disrespectful to anyone. I just made a comment that the team as a whole wasn’t good enough to compete for a title and, at the stage in my career where I am now, that’s what I would love.»
Harden went on to admit he didn’t handle his end in Houston the best way he could.
«There were some things I felt were out of my character, but the ultimate goal was to get somewhere where I could compete. Here I am in Brooklyn,» he said.
Harden, though, also referred to himself as an «elite player, an elite teammate, an elite leader,» defending his final days in Houston as not indicative of the bigger picture of his career. Now, the Nets will find that out for themselves.
Certainly, the talent is intriguing now that he’s playing with Kevin Durant (again), Kyrie Irving and what remains a fairly deep roster despite the trade. Whether they can actually make it work and win a championship is the big question and both Harden and Irving will need to show their recent issues are behind them to actually prove their doubters wrong.