Earlier this week on Facebook, I posed the question in the spirit of a debate on ESPN’s First Take which centered around the following topic: “which active NBA player is a superstar?”
Stephen A. Smith gave his list: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Tim Duncan. Skip Bayless agreed – sort of. There were some talk on those who were on the verge of SUPERstardom: Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, Dwight Coward and James Harden. Both Stephen A. and Skip were bullish on Harden and his potential.
Well, given his performance in the postseason – or lack thereof – methinks Harden is just a star. In fact, I don’t think he should EVER be considered a SUPERstar.
Let’s work backwards here. In last night’s Game 2 vs. Portland, Harden shot 6 of 19 shots for 18 points to go along with FIVE turnovers. In Game 1 Harden made just 8 of 28 shots (including 3-14 from three-point range) and finished with four turnovers. As a result, the Rockets are down 0-2 to the Trail Blazers.
In the 2012 NBA Finals vs. Miami, Harden went 18-48 from the field and averaged 12.4 points per game for the series. Remember how people in the sports media criticized Harden – including Stephen A.?
That doesn’t pass the SUPERstar smell test to me.
SUPERstars perform at their best when the stakes are at their highest. Think Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Irving, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Oscar Robertson, and Moses Malone if you wanna go old-school. Or Kobe, LeBron, D-Wade, KD, Dirk Nowitski, Duncan, and Paul Pierce if you are new school.
Look, Harden is a stud. He didn’t get that phat contract from the Rockets for nothing.
Just don’t call him a SUPERstar because, well, he’s not.
Harden is a SG. His main contribution is knocking down outside shots. He doesn’t go to the hole like MJ and D Wade. Therefore, his productivity drops significantly when he’s in a shooting slump, like he is now. Very few outside shooters are considered superstars. Reggie Miller is the only one who comes to mind. He must become a top assist guy or find ways to get to the rim if he wants to reach superstar status.