James Harden is out of Brooklyn, something that the Beard was seemingly keen on by the end of his short tenure with the Nets. Since he was in Houston, Harden has had a very clear goal to go along with winning the MVP award. A championship, an essential piece to cementing your legacy as one of the greatest to ever do it has been what Harden has been chasing during the prime of his career.
It didn't happen with the Rockets, although they came so close to beating the Golden State Warriors. It didn't happen with the Nets, despite Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both being on the same roster as Harden. However, he thinks that his latest stint in Philadelphia might see him finally get his hands on a coveted ring, alongside an MVP frontrunner in Joel Embiid.
Naturally, considering that Harden made it clear that playing in Philly was something he wanted, and that he looked for a move out of a second franchise in a year, the expectations are massive. The media will likely show no mercy to the Beard if he is unable to finally win an NBA title, with ESPN's Stephen A. Smith listing out the reasons that Harden has never been under more pressure during his career.
"There has never, ever been more pressure on James Harden in his career than exists right now. I'm talking, this is more pressure than he was facing when he had to go up against Golden State and they had to go into that Game 7. In Houston, one their home court, at the Toyota Center, with people saying, 'What you gonna do James, the numbers you generate isn't the same as what you do in the regular season as compared to the postseason'.
"Now guess what, all of that pales in comparison to the pressure he is under right now. Philadelphia, with Joel Embiid playing like a league MVP candidate... They kept Maxey, they kept Thybulle, you still have Tobias Harris... When I look at it from that perspective, you James Harden, you come there, considering the way you departed Brooklyn, considering the way you departed Houston... This is James Harden arriving in Philadelphia with profound expectation, and he's got to deliver."
Harden is currently out of action for the Sixers with the same hamstring injuries that kept him out of Nets games in his last few weeks with Brooklyn. The Sixers are the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference but will be hoping to climb up the table after the All-Star break is over. If James Harden can power Philly to an NBA championship, he will become an instant hero but if they come up short yet again, tough questions will be asked of the franchise as well as their brand new superstar.