NBA

Harden blames 'media narrative' for Giannis winning MVP race

By Sports Desk August 22, 2019

James Harden believes a media narrative was behind Giannis Antetokounmpo beating him to being named NBA MVP for 2018-19.

Houston Rockets guard and 2018 MVP Harden averaged 36.1 points in the regular season – the most since Michael Jordan tallied 37.1 in 1986-87 – and went on a stunning run of 32 30-point games in succession.

However, Antetokounmpo was the best player for the Milwaukee Bucks, who finished the regular season with the best record of any team. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.

"[It was] one for the books. Even when I'm gone, they're going to talk about it," Harden said to 97.9 The Box of his season, before offering his thoughts on how the MVP race unfolded.

"It's out of my control. Once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year, I think they just take that narrative and just run with it the entire year.

"I don't want to get into details. All I can do is control what I can do, and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level. There's only a few other seasons that anybody has ever done that before.

"People were tuned in to how many points I was going to score the next game. It was a thing. But I can't control that. The only thing I can control is coming back next year and being better than I was, and winning a championship."

The Rockets dealt Chris Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder to add 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook to their roster for 2019-20 and Harden is eager to get going.

"I'm excited. Obviously, Chris did an unbelievable job the two years that he was here. He's helped our organisation and team a tremendous amount. But we have most of the same core guys coming back, and then we add Russ," he said.

"We all know how Russ plays, and he's even a greater guy off the court. It's difficult playing against him, just because he plays with that aggression. He plays with that anger. But it's going to be better to have him on our team now.

"Now we've got him and PJ [Tucker] … crazy together. We've got a lot of guys who are return and then you add Russ, it's something special."

On potential opponents in next year's playoffs, Harden added: "It don't even matter because we focus on ourselves. We've got so much talent in that locker room, and our organisation is so great.

"We don't pay attention to other teams. We just focus on what we control, our team, and being the best we can be. Whoever we face, let's get it on."

Related items

  • Vince Carter re-signs with Hawks for 22nd NBA season Vince Carter re-signs with Hawks for 22nd NBA season

    Vince Carter has re-signed for the Atlanta Hawks to begin his record-breaking 22nd NBA season aged 42.

    The eight-time All-Star has been in the league since 1998, having been drafted fifth overall by the Toronto Raptors.

    Carter was the Rookie of the Year in his first season and is set to become the first NBA player to feature in 22 campaigns.

    He will also be the first to play in four different decades when he steps on the court in 2020, while his 1,481 career games put him first among active players and fifth all-time.

    After lengthy stints with the Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets - then the New Jersey Nets - Carter has had short stops with the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Dallas Mavericks, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings.

    He joined the Hawks ahead of the 2018-19 season and averaged 7.4 points in 17.5 minutes per game across 76 appearances.

    Carter, who won gold with the United States at the 2000 Olympic Games, confirmed in May he would be looking to return for the coming campaign.

  • Stephen Curry: Playing in 2020 Tokyo Olympics 'is the plan, for sure' Stephen Curry: Playing in 2020 Tokyo Olympics 'is the plan, for sure'

    Stephen Curry plans to make his Olympics debut for the United States in Tokyo next year.

    The Golden State Warriors star revealed he had designs on the 2020 Games, which is good news for the USA after the nation's seventh-placed finish at the recent FIBA World Cup. 

    "That is the plan, for sure," Curry said in an interview with ESPN. "You know, obviously knock on wood, you don't want any injuries or things like that to interfere."

    Curry played for Team USA in the 2010 and 2014 FIBA World Cup tournaments, winning the title both times, but this would be his first Olympics appearance.

    "[I] definitely want to go," said Curry. "I've never been on the Olympic team. I've been on two World Cup championship gold-medal teams. But the Olympics is the experience that I want. And next year will hopefully be it."

    While Curry is the first NBA star to commit to the squad, Warriors team-mate Draymond Green told CNBC last week that he also hopes to play. Meanwhile, LeBron James told The Athletic in April that playing for Team USA in 2020 could happen.

    A USA squad shorn of their best talents due to a plethora of withdrawals produced their worst showing at a World Cup.

    Curry, though, is understandably confident USA can reassert their dominance at the Olympics if their big names do decide to play.

    "We're still the best," said the 31-year-old. "If we get the guys that are supposed to be there, in terms of, you know, representing us on the Olympic stage and the commitment's been there, and I think it'll be there next year."

  • Rockets star Harden: I want to be one of those basketball players you won't forget Rockets star Harden: I want to be one of those basketball players you won't forget

    James Harden wants to be unforgettable as he eyes multiple NBA championships and looks forward to joining forces with new Houston Rockets team-mate Russell Westbrook.

    Harden has been one of the best players in the NBA since he joined the Rockets, averaging 29 or more points per game in each of the last four seasons.

    The Rockets star was also named MVP in 2017-18, though seven-time All-Star Harden is yet to win a championship.

    "I still haven't accomplished half of what I want to accomplish," Harden told Bleacher Report. "Like, multiple championships.

    "I want to be one of those basketball players that you won't forget. And obviously, we all remember the Kobes [Kobe Bryant] and the Jordans [Michael Jordan] and the D-Wades [Dwyane Wade] and all those guys.

    "I want to be in that same conversation, obviously, in championships and all that good stuff, and best shooting guards to ever play the game."

    Harden's hopes of winning a title have been boosted by the arrival of Westbrook, who he played alongside during his time with the Oklahoma City Thunder.

    The Rockets retooled their roster this offseason when they sent Chris Paul, along with multiple draft picks, to the Thunder in exchange for All-Star and former MVP Westbrook.

    The deal reunited Westbrook and Harden, who previously played together in Oklahoma City from 2009-12. 

    "[There will be] a lot of ups and downs," Harden added. "But I'm more excited to go into war, postseason, with somebody that is, like, a dog. Somebody that's a killer, for real."

    Harden believes the Rockets – who reached the Western Conference semi-finals last season – have a chance to compete for a title, especially with the addition of Westbrook. 

    "Of course it [not having a championship] matters to me," Harden said. "I've been thinking about it maybe the last year-and-a-half, two years. I'm on the right path. You can't rush winning a title. Some win it early, some win it late. It's perfect timing.

    "The time is going to happen when the time happens. I've just got to be patient, continue to work my butt off, continue to be a great leader, great team-mate, and just try to bring as much talent and as much guys that have that same drive that I have. I think we all have it right now."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.