Key Points: James Harden 76ers Introductory Press Conference
Today James Harden took to the podium for his introductory press conference since being traded to the Philadelphia 76ers. With Ben Simmons’ first presser with the Nets just thirty minutes prior, many Sixers fans were waiting with anticipation to hear from the 10x All-Star. Harden had a lot to say about the fit in Philadelphia, his future, and playing next to Joel Embiid.
Playing in Philadelphia
James Harden had a lot of praise for the 76ers faithful, and could not understate his excitement to get on the court in front of the fans. Harden even went as far to say that despite other fanbases claiming to be the best fans, nobody can compare to Philly fans.
“…when I was going through everything I was going through in Houston… Philly was my first choice, it just didn’t happen”
Harden also spent time elaborating on the process of getting to the 76ers, as far back as his time with the Houston Rockets. Keep in mind this is James’ third team in about 14 months’ time, and the Philly media made sure to cover that topic with him. Harden revealed that during his fracture with the Rockets a little over a year ago his top choice was Philadelphia.
Harden’s Fit on the 76ers
James Harden had a ton of praise for multiple 76ers players, but routinely doubled down on how excited he is to play alongside Joel. The beard mentioned countless times how Embiid is playing at an MVP level, and his job is to fit in right next to him. Harden was asked how Embiid compares to the rim-runner centers he’s played in the past, and James made sure to illustrate how Embiid can do everything on the court. Harden also made sure to quell any doubts that the two wouldn’t mesh well together saying the pair plays at too high of a level not to figure it out.
“When you got high-level skill guys that know the game, and all they want to do is win, we’ll figure it out”
James Harden was also asked what he’s seen from the rising star Tyrese Maxey, another guy Harden was very excited to play next to. The Beard commented on the confidence Maxey has displayed in their short time together so far, and the strides he’s made over the season are unbelievable. James made it a point to say he would take the time to talk to Maxey frequently to help boost his game even further.
Finally, James Harden was also asked how he thinks the fit with Tobias Harris will go and once again the Beard had nothing but praise. Harden doubled down on the fact he’s here to get the best out of his teammates, Tobias included.
“Tobias is a guy who can go get you 20 a night, and I feel like it is my job to get that out of him”
Harden’s Player Option
One of the biggest talking points with the acquisition of James Harden was the topic of his contract and commitment to the 76ers. Harden has a player-option at the end of his contract that he can either deny to become a free agent, or pick up to stay with the 76ers. Recently it was reported that Harden and his team attempted to pick up the option for the 2022-23 season, but “missed the deadline” to do so.
When asked about his commitment to the Sixers franchise Harden made it clear he will pick up his option and return next season. James cited the fact that during the trade process everything moved fast and his priority was to get out to Philadelphia to meet with everyone.
Of course with James Harden being ruled out past the All-Star break due to that nagging hamstring issue, much of the Philly media wanted some more insight on the decision. When asked about the hamstring Harden replied “it feels really good” while detailing the strength and conditioning he’s doing to get back to being fully healthy.
James also disclosed that he wishes he could play tonight against the Celtics, but the decision to shut him down until after the break was a collective decision. Harden made it a point to say that after the All-Star break, it is “go time” for him and the rest of the squad.
Certainly seems that James Harden is happy to be in Philadelphia, on a team he’s wanted to play with since his fallout with Houston. Safe to say Harden has quelled some unrest within fans and media members regarding his commitment to the team and overall health. Biggest takeaway, the league is not ready for the Harden-Embiid duo come post All-Star break.
Mandatory Credit: 76ers