Getty James Harden at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.
When Brooklyn Nets star shooting guard James Harden listed the Nets as his preferred trade destination, he knew that it would come with sacrifices. After all, he would be joining Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, two perennial All-Stars that had already begun building their chemistry.
But for Harden, who had already won the league’s Most Valuable Player award in 2018 and had been voted All-NBA on multiple occasions, the move to Brooklyn was about much more than individual awards and accolades. He wanted to reach the mountaintop that Kyrie and KD had previously reached, winning the NBA Finals.
It has only been about a month since the trade was officially announced, but one Houston Rockets legend can already see the differences in the way Harden plays the game.
Vernon Maxwell Sounds off on James Harden
“Well, somebody has to take the backseat to somebody and it seems like he’s taking the backseat to everybody,” Two-Time NBA Champion Vernon Maxwell told Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson on the latest episode of Scoop B Radio.
Maxwell won back-to-back titles with the Rockets in 1994 and 1995 when Hakeem Olajuwon was the star of the show. Maxwell was viewed as one of the Rockets’ key players, so he is no stranger to playing second fiddle. “So I love the team, I like what they put together over there; that’s my guy Steve Nash and I wish him luck. I just think that somebody has to take a backseat and Harden is taking that backseat and Kyrie [Irving] and KD just do they thing and that’s it,” Maxwell said.
Maxwell also had some sound advice for Harden after he was traded to the Nets in a hilarious tweet that went viral.
If I’m the beard I’m taking a page out in the Houston Observer thanking all the dancers in town for the past 8 years.
— Vernon Maxwell (@VernonMaxwell11) January 14, 2021
The two-time champ swears he didn’t mean any harm by it.
“I love James Harden,” Maxwell said. “I know him and his family. I don’t want to go on my guy, I love him. That’s my man but you know, I was being funny and it wasn’t nothing bad – that’s my guy.”
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While Maxwell is impressed with the offense of the Nets, he admits that the defense still needs a lot of work. The Nets are amongst the worst in the league in terms of defensive rating. “They still got to play some damn defense, man,” Maxwell said. “You can’t be got damn shooting all the time I mean c’mon man; scoring 140 points and losing and sh–? I mean, good God! That sh–’s crazy man. You got to play some kind of defense.”
When the Harden to Brooklyn trade was announced, many people already had punched the Nets’ ticket to a matchup in the 2021 NBA Finals with the Los Angeles Lakers. Despite Brooklyn’s putrid defense, their offense alone is enough to take them to the championship. Much like Harden, Maxwell believes Brooklyn will be a tough team to beat four times in seven games.
Maxwell Says Brooklyn Will Tough To Beat
“I think Philly is a good threat to Brooklyn but, I don’t think they can beat Brooklyn. It’s gonna be tough for somebody to beat Brooklyn in a seven-game series too now,” Maxwell told Scoop B. “I mean, sh–. You gotta see them EVERY night in a series? These mutha******* ain’t going nowhere. They are really trying to cut your mutha*******’ head off, you know what I’m sayin’? These mutha******* is really REALLY coming at you. Every time they get the ball you got KD, Kyrie AND James? These mutha******* is really trying to hurt somebody. These mutha******* is trying to kill.”
Brooklyn as talented as they are will have to see teams who are just as talented the deeper they go in the playoffs. They won’t be able to depend solely on their offense. Putting up 140 points in the playoffs is highly unlikely. The good thing is Brooklyn has thrived against good teams as they have a record of 7-1 against teams over .500 this year. They have another big test coming up on Saturday as they take on Durant’s former team the Golden State Warriors.