Tuesday 18th June 2024,
The Hoop Doctors

What Does Houston Rockets’ 16-Game Win Streak Mean to James Harden? ‘Nothing’

James Harden

After beating up the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night, the Houston Rockets have now won 16 straight games. They’re also flat-out owners of the NBA’s best record and, by extension, the Western Conference’s No. 1 seed. Obviously, they’re pretty excited about their recent play.

Er, actually, maybe not.

When asked by ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon about what tying the Boston Celtics for the NBA’s longest winning streak this season meant to him, James Harden didn’t mince words. He doesn’t really care, apparently:

What does matching the Celtics for the longest winning streak of the season mean to James Harden?

“Nothing. Nothing at all. We just want to play well. We just want to play well and have each other’s back on both ends of the floor. It doesn’t matter. Wins and losses will come. … We’ve still got a long way to go, a long way to go.”

Attribute some of this to typical athlete-speak. The great ones seldom allow themselves to get caught up in regular-season accolades that have no tangible value. This isn’t the MVP award. It isn’t even a division title. The Rockets won’t get a trophy or banner for this winning streak. That doesn’t mean they cannot enjoy it. But it does mean they’re unlikely to indulge the trappings of their success to appreciable degrees in public.
At the same time, the Rockets were assembled for one reason, and one reason only: to beat the Golden State Warriors. And outlasting them for the NBA’s best record doesn’t count. They exist to dispatch them in a best-of-seven series—in the race for an NBA title.
Representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals would mean something to the Rockets. It would entail them doing exactly what they’re built to do, before getting an opportunity to raise a real banner. Until—or rather, unless—that happens, they’ll likely view every other success story, however profound, as nothing more than part of a larger process.

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