James Harden isn’t shocked the Nets’ Big 3 broke up, because he felt they were dysfunctional from the start. He said it didn’t go bad once he left Brooklyn, but that he left because it was already bad.
“It was wrong. It definitely … it was wrong. It wasn’t right,” Harden said Saturday night after his 76ers beat the Nets 101-98 at Barclays Center.
“It wasn’t right. It wasn’t right. So something good wasn’t coming out of this.”
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Harden insisted he wasn’t surprised that less than a year after he forced his way out of Brooklyn (he was traded to Philadelphia last Feb. 10), Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant had followed him out the Barclays Center door.
“I didn’t just ask to leave for no reason,” Harden said of requesting a trade away from the Rockets, which brought him to the Nets in January 2021. “I was in a really good place in Houston. So for me to up and leave my family, all the things I created there, to come to Brooklyn for a year-and-a-half to try to just get up and leave [the Nets], it was for a reason, you know what I mean?”
We think so.
Irving missed two-thirds of the 2021-22 season due to his refusal to adhere to New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Sources have said that was maddening to Harden, even if he wouldn’t say so.
“That’s not something that I’m going to answer. But the reason I made that decision to get out of my comfort zone, which was leave Houston and do everything that I did to get out of there was to come in and play with KD and Kyrie,” Harden said. “That didn’t happen as much as I would like to or probably the organisation wanted to. It was just something where I knew it wasn’t going to change.”
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The Nets won more than 81 percent of their games with all of the Big 3 together. The problem is, that only happened 16 times.
“Frustrating. It’s a lot of what-ifs when you play less than 20 games together. So it’s a little bit frustrating,” Harden said. “But it is what it is. Hopefully everybody’s in a good place now and we can move on.”
Durant is in Phoenix, Irving is in Dallas, Harden is in Philadelphia and the Nets in retooling mode. Asked if there was anything the Nets could’ve done to keep him, Harden said there was, but didn’t elaborate on what.
“Yeah, there was a lot of things. But it was just a lot of dysfunction. Clearly,” Harden said. “But it was a lot of internal things that I’m not going to ever put in the media. And that was one of the reasons why I chose to make my decision.
“But now, fast forward to date, I don’t look like the crazy one. I don’t look like the quitter. … I knew what was going on and I just decided to [say] ‘Hey, I’m not built for this. I don’t want to deal with that. I want to play basketball and have fun and enjoy doing it.’ And fast forward to today, they’ve got a whole new roster.”
This article first appeared on The New York Postand was reproduced with permission.