An NBA player can’t succeed without self-confidence, word to Vin Baker. James Harden knows this and has been personified as such in his Foot Locker commercials. Yet his recent chat with Scoop Jackson for ESPN shows a case of marketing imitating life.
Scoop: Bottom line, you are on this team and a lot of players aren’t, but in your mind, who is the best basketball player alive right now?
Scoop: That’s what I was about to say, “including you.” You made that sound like it was an easy answer.
Harden: It is. Myself.
Then here’s the question: Are you where you want to be basketball-wise, even if you are the best?
Harden: “Nowhere near close. I’ve got a long way to go, a lot of learning to do, improvements to make. Um, you know, as long as I’m listening and focused on the right things, I can reach my potential.”
I know. I read it, too. Now let’s walk through it.
Do I actually think he’s the best player in the league? Of course not but I’m not about to spend 2,000 words on it. No one reasonably expects an athlete of his caliber to say, “Hmm, I’m OK with being ummm, top 50, maybe?” He’s a gifted scorer with suspect defensive ability. Either way he’s still one of the league’s top shooting guards and can’t be an All Star, All-NBA player and Olympic gold medalist by accident.
However it’s at this juncture where fans, “experts” and every high school burnout in between set their keyboards on fire. Then they say someone like Jodie Meeks is better with cherry-picked numbers because that’s how arguing about sports on the internet works. Lost in all this is the fact that every legit star always thinks he’s currently the best even when plenty of evidence suggests otherwise. So there’s little to gain in stating the obvious about Harden at length.
Besides, it’s more entertaining to see him answer honestly than fake a humble response. He ought to be himself then show and prove. Although, when he’s reminded of how far he is from MVP-status, I can fall back like Kermit.
Let’s make a game out of this. Try to name 10 guys better than James Harden right now: any position. We might as well have fun with this topic while it’s relevant and contentious.