One of the common critiques of the modern NBA is that players are too friendly with each other. The NBA currently doesn’t have any intense rivalries, and outside of the playoffs, it’s rare to see tension between teams on the court. That may be changing, however, with the emergence of the Clippers’ and Lakers’ battle for LA, and the growing feud between the last two NBA MVPs – Giannis Antetokounmpo and James Harden.
Antetokounmpo beat out Harden to win the 2019 MVP award, and Harden made it clear that he felt he was robbed by voters. According to Harden, a pre-determined media narrative helped Giannis win. Then, in February at the NBA All-Star draft, Giannis took a shot at Harden while selecting his team, joking that he would take a player who was a good passer over Harden.
Giannis has got jokes 😂 #NBAAllStar pic.twitter.com/9m7cguXTMJ
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) February 7, 2020
After Harden’s team won the All-Star Game, Antetokounmpo criticized Harden again, saying that his team’s strategy was to give the ball to whoever Harden was guarding.
In an interview with Rachel Nichols that was released by ESPN on Friday, Harden responded to the draft snub, pointing out that he’s a better passer, statistically, than the player Giannis selected over him (Kemba Walker).
Rachel Nichols: “Giannis Antetokounmpo makes a joke on the air about ‘I want to take someone who can pass, I’m taking Kemba Walker instead of James Harden.”
Harden: “I average more assists than him [Walker], I think.”
Nichols: “You rank 10th in assists going into the All-Star Break and Kemba ranked 36th.”
Harden: “I don’t see what the joke is. But I didn’t even see it. I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I just know none of them can mess with me.”
Harden then belitted Antetokounmpo’s offensive ability, saying he wishes he could simply run and dunk the way Antetokounmpo can because of his size.
James Harden on Giannis antetokounmpo:
“None of them can mess with me”
“I average more points & assists”
“I wish I could be 7 feet & Just dunk… that requires no skill.”
— Jonathan Liddell (@JonJonLiddell) February 28, 2020
“I wish I could just run, with 7 feet, run and just dunk. Like that takes no skill at all. I’ve got to actually learn how to play basketball and how to have skill, you know? I’ll take that any day.”
The Rockets will play in Milwaukee on March 25th. Mark your calendar now.
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