Superteams and Legacies In The NBA
Photo obtained from Clutchpoints.com
On January 13, 2021, All-Star shooting guard James Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, getting himself paired with other All Stars, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. The blockbuster trade sent basketball fans into a frenzy, which saw the Nets form a super team with three of the league's most talented scorers.
Rumors have spread about James Harden’s behavior to get traded. At the start of the season, photos of James Harden surfaced on the internet, where NBA fans were quick to fat-shame as he appeared to have gained significant weight over the offseason. Fat jokes were so abundant that “Rick Ross” began to trend on Twitter due to their resemblance in body type. Harden was even clowned on national television for his weight, when commentator Ro Parrish on NBA TV said that Harden, “definitely had a pregame meal,” as cameras followed Harden during warmups.
Interestingly, when James Harden took the court for the first time for the Brooklyn Nets, photos appeared of him looking in great shape. Theories stormed the internet for Harden’s dramatic weight loss. One that gained traction was that James Harden was secretly wearing a fat suit. The theory suggested that Harden added fake weight underneath his sleeves during pregame to gain national attention, reduce his trade value, and make it easier for teams like Brooklyn to trade for him.
Even if the rumors were not true, the subject of a player’s willingness to get traded away became a conversation amongst the NBA community.
Photo obtained from Fadeawayworld. net
Should a player always be loyal? Should players be ridiculed for wanting out to form a superteam? How are their legacies affected by joining those superteams? Tenth-grade student-athlete Joshua Sayas believes that James Harden was valid to leave his former team.
“If you look at it, he didn’t want anything to do with the organization. He was going to want out anyways. I have mixed feelings about this situation. I can understand that he felt like he couldn’t do much more for the Rockets. Every time the Rockets landed Harden a superstar, it just didn’t work out. Maybe his approach in handling it wasn’t the best, but it was inevitable for Harden to leave.”
“As for a player like Kevin Durant and how he joined the Warriors back in 2017, that’s a different story. He joined the team with the reigning MVP of Stephen Curry and a team who had the best regular-season record of 73-9! The Warriors were already a good team. Durant joined one of the greatest teams to ever live, which was really messed up,” Sayas remarked.
In NBA history, the narrative on players’ careers has shifted dramatically due to the formation of superteams. Kevin Durant is notably one of the first players who come to mind in recent history. Before joining the Nets in the 2019 offseason, Durant joined the Golden State Warriors who had two-time MVP Stephen Curry and All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. This move by Durant made the media see him as a “snake” and a traitor. Durant then went on to win two championships in his tenure with the Warriors as well as two finals MVPs.
Should it always be players who receive hatred, or should the media look at the people behind the scenes, who conduct the structure of their team? Sayas believes that organizations should receive criticism as well.
“Say with Lebron James and how he left to join the Heat in 2011. He was in the right to leave. The Cavaliers were extremely disappointing. They never gave Lebron the right pieces to win a championship. Why would he want to waste his career on a team that wouldn’t give him the assets to succeed?”
When determining a player’s legacy in NBA history, the context of their leave seems to be the factor in deciding their careers. The notorious label of joining a superteam can land a player on either side of the spectrum, good or bad, and as rightful or as a traitor. For James Harden, his new journey in Brooklyn puts him in the best situation to win multiple championships. With two years left on his contract, it is yet to be seen how this superteam unfolds and how Harden’s legacy is ultimately altered.