James Harden blames media narrative for MVP loss to Giannis Antetokounmpo

You’ll be shocked to hear this, but a member of the Houston Rockets organization thinks people don’t properly appreciate James Harden.

In the past, there was the Rockets’ official Twitter pulling a Kanye West after Harden lost last season’s MVP award to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Then there was Rockets general manager Daryl Morey casually saying Harden is a better scorer than Michael Jordan.

Now, we’ve got the man himself quibbling with his MVP loss.

James Harden has a theory about why he lost MVP

During an interview on Houston-area radio station 97.9 The Box, the topic of Harden’s historic season last year came up. After some prodding from the host, Harden began discussing the MVP race and his public perception.

Harden’s biggest point of grief: a media narrative that formed around him.

The discussion begins around the 6:08 mark in the video below.

The full transcript of the exchange:

Host: I know you won’t say it, but I’m going to say it. I was pissed off when the MVP went down. I swear to god, I turned my TV off and I said ‘It’s politics, man.’ I know you probably don’t get involved, man I was hot.

Harden: Nah, but I think the same way you think.

Host: This man just had a historic year.

Harden: One for the books. Even when I’m gone, they’re going to talk about it.

Host: Did you get hot? Were you mad?

Harden: It’s out of my control. I think once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year. I think they just take the narrative and run with it the entire year. I don’t want to get into any details, but all I can do is control what I can do. I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level, you know what I’m saying? A few seasons where anybody’s ever done that before.

Harden doesn’t specify what exact narrative cost him the MVP, but the Rockets superstar isn’t lacking for possibilities. They could include criticisms of Harden as a ref-dependent volume scorer, Harden being considered the NBA equivalent of a system quarterback and Antetokounmpo’s Bucks quickly establishing themselves as the East’s biggest upstart.

Houston Rockets' James Harden (13) celebrates a basket against the Golden State Warriors during the first half in Game 6 of a second-round NBA basketball playoff series, Friday, May 10, 2019, in Houston. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the reason why James Harden lost the MVP last year. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

Of course, this argument would hold a lot more water had Harden not just won MVP the previous year. Not to mention that he received endless coverage during the season for his absurd 30-point streak. This might be crazy to hear for some members of the Rockets organization, but maybe, just maybe, Antetokounmpo — the hyper-efficient, paint-dominating Defensive Player of the Year finalist — was just really good?

After complaining about the media narrative undermining him, Harden and the host then discussed ... how much the media covered his historic scoring streak.

Host: Every night on ESPN, we’re saying he just did this record, he did this record, 30 in a row ...

Harden: People were tuned into how many points that I was going to score in the next game. It was a theme. I can’t control that, the only thing I can control is coming back next year, be better than I was, winning the ‘ship.

There’s no doubting Harden’s place in history as a great scorer. His 36.1 points per game last year was the highest total of any player in NBA history not named Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain. He, alongside Stephen Curry, has helped shape the modern game into what it is today.

However, that reputation, or any other narrative, didn’t unfairly give the MVP to Antetokounmpo, which is what anyone insinuates when doubting last year’s awards race.

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