NBA fans can be brutal at times, but James Harden isn't letting them (or any of the noise) get to his head.
Over the last two years (and this past season especially), Harden has been the subject of criticism and slander for his struggles on the court. With his numbers and efficiency down all across the board, many found themselves wondering if Harden's best days were in the past.
While we have yet to see Harden suit up after a full offseason with the Sixers, he isn't losing any sleep over what the critics are saying. To him, the numbers he put up this past season are still better than what most active players could achieve today.
He took a rash of criticism for his play during the 21 regular season games he played in Philadelphia after he was traded from Brooklyn. His statistics didn’t equate to his standard offensive explosions, yet the 32-year-old veteran still averaged 21 points, 7.1 rebounds and 10.5 assists with the Sixers.
“I don’t really listen to what people are saying. I wasn’t right last season and I still almost averaged a triple-double,” Harden told Yahoo Sports. “If anybody else had those numbers, we’d be talking about them getting the max. People were used to seeing me averaging 40, 30 points, and so they viewed it as a down year. I was in Philadelphia for a couple of months and I had to learn on the fly. That’s just what it was. I’m in a good space physically and mentally right now, and I’m just looking forward to next season.”
In a display of sacrifice and loyalty, Harden re-committed to a new deal for Philly that was less than the max. He literally left money on the table to ensure give his team the best odds possible of building a title contender.
Certainly, Harden's latest interview (and his pay cut) will help recover his reputation. But unless he backs it up with a superstar performance on the court next season, fans are never going to recognize his worth.