Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2 comments James Harden Probably Needs a Conservatorship

So I write this post and then James Harden goes to a strip club and "makes it rain." This doesn't change my position, though I am sure this gives Jenni Carlson more ammunition to condescend to James Harden. It is still pretty innocent for a wealthy athlete to go to a strip club and throw money around.

Jenni Carlson of The Oklahoman has decided to condescend to James Harden. She thinks because he likes to party, as exhibited by the one party he threw on a boat, he should probably stay out of a big city once he hits free agency or he will be drawn into the party lifestyle only to realize the error of his ways and change just in time to win the NBA Championship and win over his love interest. Sorry, I may have just outlined the plot of a movie, I'm not completely sure. Jenni thinks the best way to keep Harden in Oklahoma City is to point out to him that he should be treated like a child who can't control his own behavior, so it may be best to play in sleepy little Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (population: 591,967) for the rest of his career. I'm not sure the plan of saying Harden "needs" Oklahoma City is an effective one.

When doing research on Harden and what I had written about him in the past I stumbled across something very interesting. I stumbled on Bill Simmons' 2009 Draft Diary. We all know Bill Simmons loves to tell us when he is right about a player (see: Durant v. Oden), but he isn't so interested in pointing out when he misses on a player. Here's what he had to say about James Harden when he was drafted by the Thunder in 2009:

I like Harden as a glue-character guy and he definitely has a good porn name. But considering the Zombies have to worry about Durant fleeing in a couple of years, wasn't it in their best interests to find him an unselfish guard who's immensely fun to play with and was put on the earth to get Durant easy baskets? Big mistake.

This is what I am often lecturing Simmons about. He doesn't watch enough college basketball to claim to be an expert on Harden. What is James Harden in the NBA? He is an unselfish guard who is fun to play with and can get to the basket to help Durant get easy baskets. He was stuck in a bad offense for his talents at Arizona State. I said so at the time in response to Bill's comment:

Ouch. Bill's lack of college basketball knowledge comes back to bite him in the ass here. James Harden is a great passer and a wonderful teammate. That is actually a weakness that he has, scouts think he is too unselfish and should look for his own shot more. He averaged 4 assists this year and the number would have been higher if Herb Sendek ran an offense that was even halfway amenable to getting good recruits who could make shots. Let's just say if Kevin Durant is Michael Jordan, James Harden is a wonderful Scottie Pippen. The Thunder drafted a shooting guard who is unselfish and immensely fun to play with and will get Durant easy baskets. Harden is no Ricky Rubio, but if you draft Rubio then that pushed Westbrook to the 2 spot, which is not going to work out well. Harden is going to fit in well here.

Then you can read me defending Harden in the comments when an anonymous (I know! Someone who stays anonymous ripped me!) commenter got all sarcastic and shit. I wonder if Bill continues to believe taking Harden over Rubio was a big mistake? I don't think the answer as to which player is a better fit for the Thunder is still up in the air. I think Harden is still a better fit for the Thunder. I also can't judge whether Harden or Rubio are better players in the long run since Rubio has only been in the NBA for one year. I am wrong about a lot of things and I try not to pretend I am smarter than I really am. This was a situation where Bill Simmons was wrong about a player because he watched Harden in the NCAA Tournament and wasn't impressed with him, so he wrote Harden off thinking he knew all he needed to know to make a fair evaluation of Harden's talent.

Anyway, onto Jenni Carlson and her article. I hope this wasn't her intent, but this column seems tone-deaf and makes it seem like James Harden needs someone to watch over him and help him live his life.

Everyone thinks Oklahoma City needs James Harden.

Turns out, it might be the other way around.

James Harden needs Oklahoma City? Why would that be? So that Oklahoma City can be Harden's proverbial mother and prevent his outlandish party ways from ruining his basketball career?

Have you seen pictures from the All-White Yacht Party?

I have and they look like typical pictures of a wealthy, 22 year old celebrating his birthday. Everyone wore white and there were a ton of women celebrating Harden's birthday with him. Harden did what pretty much any other 22 year old single male would do for his birthday. There's nothing egregious or outlandish in those pictures. If someone took pictures of me from the ages of 19-26 celebrating my birthday it would have looked like a cheaper version of this party with less women, less yacht, less white, and more beer as opposed to liquor. This All-White Yacht party isn't a sign James Harden can't handle a big city, but is a sign he just won a gold medal and his team made the NBA Finals, so he wants to party on his birthday.

Everyone dressed in head-to-toe white, hung out on a yacht and, um, had a lot of fun.

Everybody got drunk. It's a party, that's what happens. No one got arrested and from all appearances everyone who attended the party made it home safely. Nothing to see here, let's move on.

But we can't move on, because this party is a clear sign James Harden can't handle playing in a big city. Granted, he is from Los Angeles, California and somehow managed to make it through high school without becoming unfocused and entering rehab a couple of times, but Los Angeles isn't that big of a city is it? Jenni Carlson think there is no way Harden could handle Los Angeles as a mature adult when making a lot of money.

If you believe what you read on Twitter, Diddy or Sean Combs or whatever he's calling himself these days even sent over some pricey cases of Ciroc vodka.

Nothing wrong with that.

There is nothing with that...other than Carlson thinks this is proof James Harden needs to re-sign with Oklahoma City to help ensure this partying doesn't happen all the time. It does seem she believes there is a little something wrong with partying like this.

In fact, my favorite picture is one of Harden surrounded by lovely women. He is shirtless and wearing white pants, a massive gold chain and a gold-and-black, tiger-print cowboy hat.

I mean, Harden is looking more and more like Mr. T every day.

And look what happened to Mr. T. He thought he was all rich and famous after having success with "The A-Team" and "Rocky 3" and now everyone makes fun of him as a punchline to a joke. If James Harden doesn't want to end up doing 1-800 Collect ads in a few years, he better stay in Oklahoma City.

But seriously, if this is how The Beard parties now, what can we expect after he signs what everyone expects will be a massive contract?

But no, this isn't seriously a concern. Harden threw one party. Guess who else was there? Kevin Durant? He was partying too. Where is the concern that Durant has gotten his big extension and now is partying his nights away with Mase, P Diddy, and every other Bad Boy record label star from the 90's? Eric Maynor was there. He's coming off a major injury. Does his being at Harden's party mean he is dodging his rehab and has started partying as a full-time job? Of course not. So why the concern about Harden partying after getting a massive contract? Harden has no history of being trouble off the court.

And if he happens to sign that deal with a team in Los Angeles or New York or some other hot spot?

The Beard may become a wild hair.

James Harden was born in Los Angeles. He went to Arizona State, which is commonly known as one of the biggest party schools in the nation. So far he has managed to grow up in a big city and play college basketball at a huge party school and still be on track for a huge NBA contract at the age of 22. I'm 99% sure Harden can handle playing in a big city. He's not a child and shouldn't be condescended to for throwing himself a birthday party.

Oklahoma City can save Harden from himself.

Oh my. What a condescending sentence. If I were James Harden I would read this sanctimonious sentence and immediately decide I will not be re-signing with the Thunder.

It is as if Oklahoma City is a bastion of purity which will rid James Harden of the evils lurking out in the world. You are a flawed person, James Harden, for daring to party a little bit. Stay in Oklahoma City with the Thunder and together you and Jenni Carlson can continue to look down and judge those who dare to live the lifestyle of those who live in the big city.

Oh, sure, there are plenty of folks who think Harden will be the one helping OKC by staying in town, and there's no doubt that the Thunder is better with him than without him.

It would help both sides if Harden stayed in Oklahoma City. It is not like Harden is going to go to another NBA city and allow the Sirens of that big city ruin his life, and that's why he should re-sign with the Tunder. Like it or not, that's what Jenni Carlson is saying here. She is saying James Harden needs Oklahoma City to help focus him on basketball because he is too immature to play in a big city. By playing in a big city that lurks outside the walls of nobility surrounding Oklahoma City, it is only a matter of time before James Harden is caught with 10 pounds of cocaine and a dead hooker in his bed.

Harden even said some things that make you believe he'd be willing to sacrifice some coin to stay in Oklahoma City.

“This is something special here,” he said a few days after that Finals loss. “A dynasty could be, is being built here. We're winning, we're having fun, and we're brothers.

But then came along the All-White Yacht party and these words have changed into different actions. Now James Harden is all about partying and wearing white as much as possible. The Thunder uniforms aren't white. I wonder if by having an All-White party James Harden was telling the Thunder something?

But you have to wonder if The Beard Express has a chance of running off the rail.

No, we don't. Harden was just being a 22 year old athlete and threw a party for himself. There's nothing else to read into this happening other than Harden wanted to have a party with his friends.

Earlier this summer, his account on Instagram, a picture-based social media website, had a photo of a note with some news.


Harden is making jokes about being traded? Some things are just so serious they should not even be joked about. This is one of those things. Someone needs to save James Harden from the downward spiral, because he isn't enough of an adult to help himself at this point.

Not long after, the picture was deleted.

Turns out it was a hoax.

I'm glad it was clarified by Carlson as a hoax, otherwise this column wouldn't have made much sense at all if Harden was currently playing for a team in New Orleans.

Hard to believe the Thunder was real happy that one of its potential franchise players is joking around about that.

Then again, that gold-and-black, tiger-print cowboy hat couldn't have been a big hit either.

I'm guessing the Thunder don't care what Harden does in his spare time, as long as it is legal. They most likely realize he is a grown man who capable of living life on his own and doesn't need a sanctimonious lecture about how drinking is bad.

But I'm telling you, the Thunder could use this to its advantage.

Nothing says, "Oklahoma City is looking out for it's players" like using the fact he throws an expensive party for himself as a part of the contract negotiations.

Harden clearly has some wild child in him, and there's nothing wrong with that, but here's where the Thunder can make OKC a huge positive. Sell Harden and his people on the fact that he shouldn't live in party city with a bunch of money.

Great idea! I'm sure this would work perfectly!

(Sam Presti) "We are not going to offer James the max contract."

(Harden and his agent looked surprised) "Ok. You realize this means you are close to an even playing field with other NBA teams, right? May I ask why? Even though I did just ask why by asking if I could ask why?"

(Sam Presti) "Sure, there's that yacht party James threw. We don't think he's a drunk and we trust him to do the right thing, except we do think he parties too much and we don't trust him to be making a large amount of money and spend this money wisely, but we also think he shouldn't be in a party city with all that money he will make. We trust you will agree. One more thing, we do know our offer evens the playing field...but we are pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty sure James will stay here. (spreads arms out) It's Oklahoma City!"

(Harden pulls a bunny out of his beard and begins to pet it) "You want me to take a discount to stay here? That's what you are saying?"

(Presti) "Well, you and I both know you will fail if you go to a big city. You will blow all of your money on partying and taking ladies out to nightclubs. Then you will be in deep debt and end up playing overseas because no NBA team will want you. We are 95% sure you are another Antoine Walker, but we'd love to have you re-sign with the Thunder."

(Harden's agent) "There's a lot of information you just threw at us. You don't think James is going to be able to handle his money. Do you think he is too stupid to handle his money? He's never had an issue in the past with handling his money."

(Presti) "Absolutely not. James just shouldn't live in a party city with a bunch of money. He's never had a problem before because he has played in Oklahoma City his whole career. James is too feeble-minded to handle living in a bigger city."

(Harden's agent responds while Harden picks food crumbs out of his beard) "Oh ok, you don't think he is stupid, you just think can't handle his money and have no respect for him as a free-thinking person. I get it."

(Presti) "Absolutely not. James had that yacht party a year ago and it really made us think he couldn't handle a big city, even though he grew up in Los Angeles and has never indicated before he couldn't handle his money. We can save James from his fate. Let us do this."

(Harden's agent) "If you are 95% sure Harden is going to be another Antoine Walker why do you even want him on your team. Won't he blow money here too?"

(Presti) "Well no. There is a lot of evil in big cities and there is nothing evil here in Oklahoma City. Only Oklahoma City can save you James. Let us save you."

(Harden and his agent gets up to leave) "We're done here. The fact you tried to use James' birthday party as a negotiation ploy to convince us James can't handle living in a big city tells me all I need to know."

(Presti screams after them) "You know not what you do. You need us to save you!"

Convince them that he can visit places like L.A. and Miami in the offseason but that he needs to spend most of his time in a place like Oklahoma City.

Nothing could help convince an NBA player that he should re-sign with his current team more than them suggesting what he should or should not do or where he should go visit in the offseason. NBA players love it when teams show them a lack of respect.

Last I checked, Lake Hefner didn't have enough water to float a boat big enough for another All-White Yacht Party.

I definitely think the Thunder should lead negotiations with Harden based on the following three ideas:

1. Oklahoma City is a boring place to live.

2. Harden needs Oklahoma City because he isn't capable of handling living in a big city. He needs to be saved from himself.

3. The Thunder don't want to just be your employer, they want to run your entire life.

I think we can just chalk this article up to a bad case of writer's block.


jacktotherack said...

The longer I live and the more sports articles I read the more I realize I hate sports journalists. Who the hell is Jenni Carlson to judge Harden for having a 22nd birthday party? I love how many times she says "Harden likes to have fun, and there's nothing wrong with that." Dumbass, if there is nothing wrong with it then why the fuck did you write this idiotic column?

Bengoodfella said...

Jack, I know. I hate it because I write about bad sports journalism, so that's mostly what I read when there is really good stuff out there too.

She is basically saying there is nothing wrong with having a lot of fun, except there is something wrong with having least she thinks so. She stated she wasn't trying to knock him for having fun, but that's exactly what it reads like. She is talking about using this in negotiations like he can't handle a big city? That is clearly using Harden's partying as a negative in negotiations, meaning there is something wrong with his partying that it would in some way affect negotiations or where Harden could play as a FA.