Wednesday, 25 March 2015
JAMES HARDEN Feature-THE HARDEN WAY
By TIM DAVID HARVEY
"KING! MVP! KING! MVP"! Reverberations are roaring with the stadium sound, rocking arena chant in the chorus of this whole coliseums communion. "MVP! MVP! MVP!" The King takes it all in as he turns his head round the circumference of these castle walls that could crumble at any second with the decibels of every chord of every vocal that rattles everything from the hardwood-like the ball is bouncing-to the banners above that move in a draft that says; there's space here for another! "KING JAMES! KING JAMES! KING JAMES!" The greatest, number 23 looks as everyone calls his name and title-they should be he's just scored 37-but he looks confused. He hears his royal decree being shouted by what normally are his people-regardless of the arena-but all eyes aren't on him, even if it still somewhat is 'he against the world'. He looks to the man next to him. He has two fewer baskets, but his team has two more points which is one more victory than he. "KING JAMES MVP! KING JAMES MVP"! LeBron James looks to his left...this just doesn't feel right. They're calling for a new heir apparent appointed to the throne. They're calling for King James HARDEN!
We're in Houston, it's last month and apparently there's a new king in town of the sherriff state of Texas. As now the Rockets propelled themselves 105-103 over the Cleveland Cavaliers in a crucial, game and tide changing, mid-season, post All-Star, MVP season. This 'Fast and Furious' nitrous injected Toyota Centre are fuelled by the man next to 'Bron who did more than flagrantly kick him in the groin that game...he grabbed the season by the nuts like he was the man now. Sure the Houston Rockets social media department had their fun trolling LeBron by saying Harden was the real King James on Twitter, but that's all a past hash-tag trend. What's more than the flavour of this month now is that the scoring packet-causing problems for anyone playing Houston-Harden is still a prime candidate for the three letters of M.V.P. In a three horse race outside of the four time players champ LeBron, who gave way to Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant and of course the influence of his inspiring mother last season. The Thunder strikes in the wake of K.D's injury now lie with the man getting the whole of the sport, internet and televised world out of their collective slumbers with his power, punctuated plays that are nightmares to reinforced rims and domino defences. Russell Westbrook is the epic entertainment choice. Whilst the Golden State's true Warrior, and Pacific Ocean wet brother Steph Curry with his shot and division championship is your dominant choice. A new era Point Guard, looking too cute to compete, but about to change his position and the game with what he has up his shooting sleeves like Magic. Chef Curry may just be cooking up a championship too. Still for the dimensions those divergent, changings of the guard are bringing, Harden looks to be the one to mirror and shimmer LeBron. A player looking like and taking him. A G.M's fantasy darling, prototype, ready to make the rest of the world look like an assembly line. With only some more defence required to make him complete, before he takes the kind of offence he inflicts everyone else with by the hairs on his chinny, chin, chin.
Whose afraid of the big, bad beard? Well apparently more than Gillette as right now the man with a 5 o'clock shadow this side of next month is making it hairy for everyone else. A cut above the rest and with opponents in his cross-hairs the beard is what stands out right now in this league of extraordinary gentlemen. Apologies to Anthony Davis' mono-brow...but that Pelican kid is right there too, N.O. joke! Houston's high-life skyline may-in the special Sports Illustrated feature last month-reflect a building that looks like a hair clipper...but that beard isn't coming off! No sir! It's his weapon like the Russell Westbrook phantom menace facemask of his latest opera! The tomahawk with the Mohawk! Soaring like the Atlanta Hawks. Like the Spurs of the past it looks like the hairs being grown until the Rockets rise above it all and plant their flag in the NBA's moon (that would be one small snip for James...one giant shave for man-scaping kind). If that would be the case than you might not be so surprised if you saw this thing coming snipped down like nylon nets in the NCAA madness of March...but dates in May will be this man's masterpiece. Lucky 13! Sucks to be everyone else! This Associations Texan triangle becomes a Bermuda when you have to go through the forest that is what you see when you come face-to-face with Harden. The reigning celebrating San Antonio Spurs aren't quite championship clicking yet and the All-Star, high-octane Dallas Mavericks ballclub may have too many cooks for this broth. Right now even Dirk Nowitzki, Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Tyson Chandler, Amar'e Stoudemire and former Rocket Chandler Parsons (at least they have defensive Trevor Ariza, dunking Josh Smith, shooting Jason Terry, scoring Corey Brewer, Patrick Beverly and a maze of talent when navigating the bench) couldn't even outscore Harden when he's in his zone and cooling other teams off like blowing on hot soup. Run a triangle or not, forget three for Texas, this guy is circling the league. Even if its a Mohawk you see in the sea and not a fin.
Blood in the water though and this Rocket red team is raw with the rage against their opponent's fear in this NBA machine. The beard even leaves his men with the "quick-step of death" as his jet quick scoring, gun-slinger teammate Jason Terry dubs it. Guard this guy and one or two quick moves later and you'll be left staggering at your feet like you've been shot. Perhaps you may as well have been. There goes those ankles of yours. Even the Spanish skill of soccer like Ricky Rubio has suffered. If you where a horse you'd be put out to pasture. But this is now the glue that keeps coaches dry-erases together. Play by play. They call it the Eurostep. It's more Dirk than Dwight. Houston Texan rival San An's Manu Ginoboli wears this well like spurs on the back of his sneakers. Its the answer to Allen Iverson for this new generations crossover. They say it originated as recently as the overseas influence that imported it to these shores, but are they sure? Old tape reveals Los Angeles Laker Elgin Baylor mastering teams with this move. Hey! Here's thinking we've just found a legend we can compare the legacy making of this player from Los Angeles, California too. Now the step -back is hitting the numbers of winning formula to the tune of big night after big night. Video game fantasy worthy. The 25 year old who has already-with 25 plus in the consecutive past-broken records by legendary Rocket Moses Malone, is still parting double-teams without the drawing presence of another Houston big-man great in sidekick, now understudy, Dwight Howard. When Superman returns he'll have to make way for Batman and hopefully not fight him like, like Mike, Kobe in this Justice League. As to add someone else's insult to that injury, even candidate LeBron's former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade has Harden's name on his MVP lips like everyone else in this league. Forget Kevin Love's opinion! Durant was awarded it last year, this year maybe Russ, but whether now or later one day it'll belong to the former third draft pick who was once the '3' of the OKC, big three. Which today could have been the biggest three since Holy Trinity, forget a LeBron trilogy. The Thunder can only reminisce and wish they still had their former 'Sixth Man Of The Year' who is now so much more than "Most Improved". The Thunder's incredible loss on a table with no chips now plays into the hand of a Texas trio that's face card and club belongs to a new king. Number one with a beard. MVB? Maurice Podoloff? If you can't count on that then maybe you can count on James Harden's name being associated with another one. One that's record book, infinitely more important! The legend of Larry!