With James Harden checking in as an MVP favorite for 2016-17, he hasn’t been linked so strongly to Russell Westbrook since the two played together with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
And yes, for the record, he does miss those days.
As Harden told ESPN’s Hannah Storm, per Erik Horne of the Oklahoman:
Harden, now battling Russell Westbrook for the NBA’s Most Valuable Player with the Rockets, sat down with ESPN’s Hannah Storm this week and again reiterated how special his time was in Oklahoma City, as well as how special of a season Westbrook is having. “I mean, he’s averaging a triple-double. That’s crazy,” Harden said.
Harden was asked if he misses playing with Westbrook.
“Yeah, of course,” he said. “I think if all of us had an opportunity to play with a guy like that, you’d love playing with him because he’ll run through a wall for you.
For the between-the-line readers at home, Harden isn’t throwing shade at Kevin Durant. Nor is he indirectly sending jabs at the Houston Rockets. It’s natural he misses playing with Westbrook, especially when he, like Durant and Harden, has established himself as top-10 superstar.
It’s crazy when you stop and think about it: The Thunder had three soon-to-be MVP candidates on their hands, and they traded one of them, in Harden, for luxury-tax reasons. Just imagine where those three, along with the Thunder, could have gone if they stayed together until now, or at least longer than three years.
Of course, Harden might not have turned into the player he is today had he stayed in Oklahoma City. Even if he was moved from the bench to the starting, he would been playing in the shadows of his two teammates. So while he would probably have a championship or two, he in all likelihood wouldn’t be the MVP candidate he is now.