James Harden was amazing to watch (was being a word that will be explained later). As an Oklahoma City Thunder fan, I reveled in his Euro Step, arguably the best in basketball. I laughed and celebrated when he exaggerated getting hit and was sent to the free throw line. I even bought a beard because I was a huge fan (and I can’t grow one).
The Euro Step is a thing of beauty. Unless it hurts your team. Then it sucks.
Then he was traded. He wanted more money, and he deserved it. The Thunder were offering $54 million over four years. Harden wanted a max contract of $60 million over four years. The Thunder said no, and Harden left to sign a deal with the Houston Rockets worth $80 million over five years.
At first, I was mad at Harden. How could he do that to the Thunder’s core of himself, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook? Those three were the best trio in basketball (admit it, Miami Heat fans…). The Thunder were young and had a bright future ahead! Harden talked a big game of sacrifice then jumped town for more money.
Then, I became mad at Thunder General Manager Sam Presti. The Thunder sell out nearly every game. They sell tons of merchandise. They could have pain the NBA’s luxury tax penalty for exceeding the salary cap and been fine. And it would have been worth it all for the championships they had coming their way.
Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, James Harden.
Over this season, I’ve watched Harden with sadness. Watching him play without wearing the Thunder blue was depressing. That beard. That beautiful fucking beard, flopping down the court, making threes for the Rockets. Upsetting. It’s like a close friend had died.
Then it happened: the Rockets played the Thunder. Suddenly, Harden was using the Euro Step against my team. He was flopping and getting to the line. He was draining threes and acting all cocky about it.
And you know what? Fuck James Harden. Fuck him and his beard. That’s right. Fuck him.
My hatred has grown even more in the playoffs as these two teams wage war in the first round. A number of Thunder fans have complained about Harden’s tricks working for Houston. He flops like an old porn star’s asshole. He travels all the damn time. And in game two, he had 20 free throws! That’s absurd.
People like to call out these Thunder fans and say, “Oh, but you loved it when he did those tricks for you!” or “Harden cheated and helped the Thunder but now you bash him?”
YES. That’s how sports work, dumbasses. Sports allow us to be petty and to love it. I loved Harden when his crap helped the Thunder but, now, I don’t give a shit about what he does. I want him to go down. I want him to lose. I want him to use all that new, fancy money to buy a television he can watch the remaining playoff games on from home after he loses.
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And, in a way, that’s the beauty of sports. It allows us to irrationally love a team, a set of colors, a town and a name. It lets us cheer loudly for men getting paid untold millions. We ignore hypocrisy for the good of our team. We ignore logic because logic hurts our pride. And it is ours. It brings us together in a stadium filled with angry, stupid, almost barbaric fans and find some sort of unity.
The first Yankees game after 9/11 was incredibly emotional even if you weren’t there or a Yankees fan. It implied that we weren’t going to stop being normal, being crazy, being sports fans. The Red Sox game after the recent Boston Marathon bombing was the same way. These sports, basketball, football, baseball, soccer (or fútbol if you will), these kids games that we pay tons for and pay people tons to play, brings us together in a wonderful hurricane of irrationality, pettiness, and pride.
As for James Harden? Well, he was amazing to watch. But now? He’s nobody to me.