James Harden was not an All-Star last season despite averaging 21.4 points, 11 rebounds and 6.4 rebounds assists a game through early February (when the starters were named and then coaches picked the bench players). His missing 16 games early in the season due to a foot injury played a significant role in what happened, but it was still a serious snub — and Harden called out the disrespect on social media.
In her must-read breakdown of how the relationship between Harden and the Philadelphia 76ers fell apart, ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne tells a story about Harden "pouting" after not getting an All-Star nod, then not taking Adam Silver's phone calls asking if he would be an injury replacement on the team.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver was prepared to name him as an injury replacement, sources said. Harden just had to give assurances that he would show up and play in the game.
Days went by without Harden's answer. He was pouting. By the time Harden sent word that he would accept the invitation, Silver had moved on, naming Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam as the replacement for an injured Durant.
James Harden fired back at that part of the report, responding to ESPN’s Instagram post on the report, calling it “lies.”
Two things can be true:
1) Shelburne was told this by a trustworthy source and she verified it with others — she would not have reported it otherwise. Having been fortunate enough to know her, in addition to reading her work for years, she is not one to just throw things out there to be sensational. She's very well sourced.
2) Harden can believe that is not how things happened. How Harden perceives what went down and how others around the league (or around Harden) perceive it can be two different things.
Like many things in life, what really happened depends on who you ask, and the truth often lands somewhere in the middle.
What we know for sure — from before Shelburne's story, but confirmed by it — is that Harden wants to be traded out of Philadelphia and its training camp next month looks like it will be a circus. At the very least. If there is one thing Harden knows how to do at an elite level (beyond playing basketball), it's make things uncomfortable for management when he wants out.