James Harden

USA Today

Harden's Reached A New Level

He’s a one man team.

January 17, 2019 - 12:21 pm

If you saw Ersan Ilyasova’s name popping up on Twitter a lot last night, you might have thought the big man had passed away. Good news, he did not literally die.

Bad news, he spiritually died last night. His soul was taken from us. And the man responsible for that theft was one JaMychal Green. Roll it.

Filthy. Sick. Twisted. And disgusting.

Just a quick note here. That wasn’t the usual Twitter dunk explosion. That wasn’t Ersan going up to block a dunk and getting posterized. That was Ersan sliding over to take a charge, and Green taking his soul.

Poor Ersan, we hardly knew ye.

But while that was the dunk of the year, it wasn’t the performance of the night. That goes to one James Edward Harden Jr.

Let’s talk about the level that Harden is playing at this season. He scored 57 points on Monday night. That’s impressive. You want to know what’s really impressive. He scored 57 points on Monday night and I barely mentioned it on Tuesday’s show. That’s the level that he’s at right now. You see that he has 57 points and its like, yep, that’s the beard.

Sure, he can go off for 57 in a night, but can he do it twice in one week? Yes. He can do it twice in three days. Because he chased Monday’s 57 with 58 last night against the Nets. 58.

And he did it with a very slow start. He had just 14 points in the first half. And then went off for 22 in the third quarter.

And then hit 50 in perfect Harden fashion.

He cleared about thirty feet of space with that jab step and stepback. Absolutely textbook. You know James Harden has reached a new level when you see a highlight like that and you’re impressed that the defender didn’t just quit and find a new line of work. I would. 

And what is that new level? Two games, 115 points. We’re moving out of MJ and Kobe territory and into Wilt Chamberlain territory.

In fact, Harden and Chamberlain are the only two players in history with back to back 55 point games. The only difference being that Chamberlain was, roughly speaking, a giant amongst men and Harden is a man amongst giants.

He has 18 straight games of at least 30, which is the longest streak like that since the Stilt did it 20 straight times more than 50 years ago. Think about that.

More than half a century of basketball. More than half a century of guys like KAJ, Dr. J, Bird, MJ, Kobe, and LeBron, and nobody’s done that. Until now.

We haven’t even hit the All-Star Break, but if you wanted to just call the voting right now and give Harden the MVP, I wouldn’t argue. And I don’t think anyone else would either. This team was dead at the start of the season and he has singlehandedly dragged them back with some of the most jaw-dropping basketball you’ll ever see. Yeah, I said single-handedly because he’s been doing it without Chris Paul and now Clint Capela.

He’s a one man team. His assists are down the last two games because he’s running out of guys to pass to. And the fact that he’s doing it on a nightly basis and you’re getting used to it, doesn’t mean it’s not spectacular.

As Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said: "I’m speechless how good he is. It changed everything, how you coach. We’re doing things we’ve never done before, he’s changing the way the game is played. He’s revolutionary."

But again, for some of you, he’s boring. Or he’s a cheater, because he goes to the free throw line a lot. Which is kind of like saying that an NFL team throwing screen passes is cheating. It’s not. And Harden’s not.

Again, Harden is a cheat code, not a cheater.

And no, the Rockets did not win the game. And no, that doesn’t take anything away from Harden’s performance. Sure, he was pissed they lost and that they blew a late lead and it was a bad lead to blow. Brutal to be up 6 with 30 seconds left in regulation and then lose in overtime.

There was a time when you’d be able to clown a team for blowing a late lead to the Brooklyn Nets, but have you seen the Nets lately? I mean, have you really seen them?

Because you’ve got Jarrett Allen doing this

And you’ve got Spencer Dinwiddie hitting one clutch shot after another. Spencer Dinwiddie doesn’t just have one of the best names in the NBA, he had 16 points in the final minute of regulation and overtime.

So I’m about to say something I didn’t think I’d ever say. Brace yourself. Stand back. You ready? Here we go: the Brooklyn Nets are coming. They are building something and they have done it without much in the way of draft picks. 

But last night wasn’t about Brooklyn’s future, it’s about Harden’s present. And you better take notice. You better soak it in, because there’s no telling how long it’ll last, but when it’s over, we might not see anything like it for another 50 years.