James Harden has perhaps the most to prove in Brooklyn Nets. The other two stars of the franchise, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, already have championship rings on their fingers and in the trident, only the guard does not know what it is to win a title in the NBA.
The situation has been chaotic for Brooklyn after Irving's Instagram Live on Wednesday, where he emphasized that he was not going to retire, but commented that he will not be vaccinated against COVID-19 either.
"I chose to be unvaccinated and that is my choice and I would ask you to respect it. You think I really want to give up on my dream to go after a championship? You think I really just want to just give up my job? You think I really just want to sit at home and not go after the things with my teammates that I’ve been able to grow with, to learn with?"
After those statements it was Harden who came out yesterday to explain his thoughts on the matter and, according to The Athletic, via The NBA Central, not having Kyrie will be a "big hit", but that they have "a job to do" in the meantime.
"Individually, myself, I’m still wanting to set up for a championship. And I feel like the entire organization is on the same path. And we’re all as a collective unit. We’ll keep pushing forward and we’ll try to do our best every single day to get better and keep going as a collective unit."
Harden's opinion is in line with Durant's, who explained that there is no point in getting angry about the situation.
“What is being mad gonna do? It’s not gonna change his mind.”
Brooklyn will face the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday in the 2021/22 regular-season opener and James Harden will need to be at his best to mask Irving's absence.
The lefty player is coming off of playing in 36 of Brooklyn's 82 games last regular season following his trade from the Houston Rockets. When he was healthy, he showed everything he can do on offense and defense.
His ability to generate with both starters and subs is critical and the team will need to exploit him aggressively to stay competitive until Kyrie's situation is resolved.
He averaged 24.6 points, 10.9 assists, and 8.5 rebounds in his first stint with the Nets and can still do better. Both he and Durant will have all the responsibilities and it's up to them to keep Brooklyn's chances of remaining a threat in the Eastern Conference.