Culture / Sporting Life

John Wall, Not Strip Club Partying, Haunts James Harden

Defending The Beard’s Right to Live It Up — and Take Basketball Heat

BY // 05.13.17

It ends as all James Harden seasons ends — in a torrent of preventable turnovers, with an opponent forcing him to rely on his right hand to disastrous results. And oh yeah, it also ends in a strip club. James Harden is an unattached NBA superstar, where did you think he was going to console himself?

Strolling the aisles at Barnes & Noble isn’t an option at 3 a.m. They also don’t take kindly to 6-foot-5, bearded guys checking out Levy Park’s new waxed slide in the wee hours. Even in a city like Houston, there aren’t a whole lot of places to go after an NBA star’s game night responsibilities are done.

Yet, Harden’s choice of post-loss activities is drawing just as many headlines as his actual in-game performance. It does not matter that Harden hit the Midtown club Set to watch Houston rapper (and devoted Rockets fan) Travis Scott perform. Or that he followed that up by reportedly partying at Dreams strip club in the wake of a gutless 39-point loss to a limited San Antonio Spurs team.

What actually matters is the actual gutless performance by the Harden-dominated Rockets on the big playoff stage. That screams plenty about how Mike D’Antoni’s team still desperately misses having a Jeremy Lin-level true point guard to share the ball handling and force the team to stick with its offense when things get difficult

Harden’s insistence on being the one and only ball-dominant guard is going to come up short of even winning him the MVP Award. And it’s surely not ever going to turn the Rockets into true championship contenders.

Why wasn’t Lou Williams ever allowed to use the ball handling skills he routinely showed with the Lakers in Houston? Because everything has to be about Harden? Still?

Holiday Gifting

  • Bond No 9 - Candle
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Casa di Lino
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Nocturne Studio

This is what everyone should be talking about. Instead, we’re upset by the nocturnal habits of a professional athlete? Don’t we know by now that NBA players work late and go out later? Just because Harden’s caught by TMZ  bopping and laughing in the club in the same Gucci sweatshirt he tried to disappear into in his postgame interview sessions does not mean this failure does not bother him. It just means he felt like doing something after seeing a long season end in humiliation.

Would it make you feel better if Harden was drinking by himself in a darkened house?

The Rockets organization politics for James Harden like they’re running a campaign on Veep.

I happened to be staying at the Colcord Hotel in Oklahoma City last May when the Thunder blew out the Golden State Warriors in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals to take a commanding 3-1 series lead — and I witnessed Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and other Warriors players get cars after both losses to hit the town. Do you think the Warriors, who stormed back to win the series, didn’t care?

This is just what professional athletes do. They’re still keyed up after a game — lose or win. Going right to sleep or confining themselves to a room isn’t realistic. It does not work with the late-night lifestyle their sport demands. Harden felt the need to get out… who cares?

About the only real notable part of Harden’s overblown post-blowout romps is the fact that the Set crowd kept chanting “MVP! MVP! MVP! at him as he partied. It’s great that Houston is so nice, but sometimes you need to demand more. Can you imagine New York club goers chanting love Matt Harvey‘s way if they ran into him in a club hours after he got lit up in a playoff game?

Forget the night club or the strip club night ender. Both coach Mike D’Antoni and Harden came off as a little too satisfied about the Houston Rockets’ exceeding expectations this season in their postgame podium sessions. They both sounded way too reflective — and almost ready for the season to be done.

Contrast that with the Washington Wizards’ John Wall in another Game 6 Friday night. Wall, another oft-criticized superstar like Harden, suffered through a first half nearly as horrific as the one The Beard put up against San Antonio. The Wizards’ star staggered into the halftime break with three points next to his name. In an elimination game.

But Wall kept fighting. Unlike Harden and the Rockets, he didn’t just call it a night — and a series. And there’s Wall dragging the Wizard back in the third quarter with relentless quick drives and no-way spin moves. There is Wall hitting The Shot of these playoffs so far, a pull-up, game-winning three-pointer with 3.5 seconds on the clock. John Wall just made James Harden look so much worse.

Wall refused to die — and got himself to a Game 7. That is what should be haunting James Harden this weekend, not his post Game 6 roll-over late-night fun.

The entire Houston Rockets organization — and D’Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey in particular — have spent this whole season politicking for James Harden harder than even Selina Meyer campaigns for her presidential library on Veep.  And they’re at it again on Friday afternoon, seemingly more concerned with their star’s “rep” than wins.

Then, Wall goes out there on Friday night and squashes all those words, making everyone see just how hollow and meaningless they are. Wall is a year younger than the 27-year-old Harden and he already has a signature playoff moment with a much-worse run organization than the Rockets.

Forget the strip clubs. That’s the real revealing thing that makes Harden look lacking — and a little sad.

Home, chic home.

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