After winning the sixth man of the year award with Oklahoma City, helping lead the Thunder to the Finals and cementing himself as one of the biggest fan favorites in the NBA, it’s a little shocking that James Harden wasn’t given longer to consider his contract offer with the Thunder.
Harden only had an hour to decide, turning one of the biggest decisions of his life into a 60-minute game-show-style race against the clock.
"After everything we established – everything we had done – you give me an hour?" Harden said. "This was one of the biggest decisions of my life. I wanted to go home and pray about it. It hurt me. It hurt."
Harden currently leads the NBA in scoring by 8.5 points per game over Kobe Bryant. Obviously those numbers will even out a little over the course of the season, but there is no one questioning Harden’s ability to be a starter and team leader anymore.
After three seasons of happily living in the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Harden casts his own now. He has already been called the Rockets’ “foundational player” by general manager Daryl Morey and he has set the stage for an amazing season.
"I was there with talented guys in Oklahoma City, some All-Star guys, and I would've been in the back seat there – which I was fine with – but I wouldn't have gotten the chance to show how talented I really am," Harden said. "It's a different opportunity for me here."
Any critics, and I include myself in this list, that thought Harden would flop playing opposite Jeremy Lin with no real superstar talent in his frontcourt are eating their words now. The Rockets are sitting at 2-1 while the Thunder are 2-2. Again, there is still a lot of season left to play, but it looks like Houston really found a gem in Harden.
I understand there are time crunches in the NBA just like any other business, but for James Harden, who is now an undisputed top player in the league, I think you spare a little more than an hour.