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NBA Summer Workout SZN: James Harden Edition

As you know, it’s my self assigned responsibility to keep an eye out on social media for little glimpses of how some your favorite players are getting ready for the upcoming NBA season. Now more than ever players take to social media to give us some sort of video with the intention of letting the world know they’re putting in work. Since it’s the slowest time of year for the league, any little breadcrumb usually does the trick. Well, when it came to James Harden, his summer update looks a little different.

Now I want to put this out here early, you will not see me slander James Harden here. He and I were at Arizona State at the same time so while some may hate his game and think watching him is boring, I couldn’t disagree more. Huge Harden guy. I’ll never forget when we crossed paths in college and had a moment. Allow me to tell you the story real quick.

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To any of you in college, have you ever been an ESPN gameday production hire? Basically back in like 2008/9 a friend of mine had spent the summer interning at ESPN, and so whenever there was a Sunday Night Baseball/Monday Night Football/College Gameday in Pheonix/Tempe the production company searches for college kids to do bitch work for the telecast (shout out Kwokman Productions). It could be running cable, holding the cable behind a camera guy as they come onto the court, things of that nature. They paid like $75 and a free buffet dinner so obviously as a poor college kid it was basically the best thing ever. Get to the arena four hours early, you can all the access you want, really cool shit. Anyway, back then Arizona State wasn’t a complete embarrassment when it came to athletics, especially their basketball team led by James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph. It was around mid February and they had a nationally televised game against UCLA who at the time was ranked #11. A few weeks earlier they had beat UCLA at their place while they were #9, and I remember it was a big deal because ASU never sweeps UCLA (they also went 3-0 vs UofA that year so suck on that). This was a team that had Darren Collison, Jrue Holiday, and Josh Shipp (right after the Love/Westbrook years). So it was my job to hold the cable and sit on the basket and then when there was a timeout or something the guy would run onto the court and I had to recoil the cable in about 15 seconds. Big time pressure job that I for sure fucked up.

Somehow, ASU pulls out the 74-67 win (Harden had 15/7/11 on 5-8) and the entire student section starts rushing the court. Naturally because I was already on the floor, I was one of the first people to reach center court. It was here and James and I locked eyes and had a moment. Immediately we were trampled by drunk Sun Devils and all I remember hearing is Harden screaming “Don’t hurt me don’t hurt me I got the Draft I got the Draft!!” I’m sure this story sounds way cooler to me than any of you, but I just want to give you some background as to why I will not kill James Harden for looking a little pudgy in this picture. It seems as though he’s been enjoying himself this summer after rightfully winning the MVP, so I’m cutting him a little slack. He probably knew they were going to sign Melo and said fuck it. I would describe this look as athletically pudgy, because when it comes to the actual basketball we’ve seen from Harden this summer, it looks like this

If I had to guess, Harden is going with the “I’m in game shape not practice shape”, that’s a line I know all too well. So while other NBA players may be spending their summer working out so they can look like this

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I respect the not giving a fuck by James Harden. He knows he doesn’t have to even be in great shape to still cook a defense as he’s without a doubt the best iso player in the league, and if anything seeing him in that picture makes him even more relatable. Add in the unintentional comedy of the slogan the wall behind him “Think Like A Champion Train Like A Warrior” and you really have something here. So get your jokes off if you want, just know that once Harden is matched up against your favorite team, he’s going to destroy them whether he’s in shape or fat as fuck. I respect that. Everyone knows working out sucks ass, so knowing you can still be an MVP without spending hours/days/weeks/months getting in shape must be nice.

Now as always, the highlights for your enjoyment.