James Harden has faced scrutiny from fans as he continues to climb the ranks in the NBA and produce one of his best season’s yet.
The seven-time All-Star and defending MVP is fully aware of his haters, but he has one simple message for the critics.
“That’s fine, you don’t have to like watching me play,” Harden told ESPN on Saturday. “But I know a lot of people that do.”
Harden went on to say he “appreciate(s) the haters” and uses the negative talk as motivation.
“They motivate me to be better than I was the year before. That’s what it’s about,” Harden explained. “You’re always going to have somebody who doesn’t like what you do or downplays what you do or can’t relate to you. Which is fine. Nothing against them, but that’s a part of life.
“I don’t have nothing to prove to anybody. When you know you’re comfortable within your own self, and you go out there and be yourself every single night and every single day, that’s pretty cool.”
Harden’s teammates acknowledged the 29-year-old guard’s recent performances have been nothing short of impressive as he now stands at 29 straight games of 30-plus-points after the Rockets’ 117-112 victory over the Thunder on Saturday.
“Man, just respect what he’s doing,” Chris Paul said of the criticism Harden receives. “Guys who play in this league know how hard that is to do that night in and night out. … If everybody else could do it, they would.”
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Austin Rivers added: “I’m surprised that people don’t like watching him play. … We live in a day and age where everybody likes one-on-one moves, crossovers — I mean, you would think people would love watching him.”
Harden is making a strong run to bring home another MVP this season as he has led the Rockets to a 32-23 record, averaging 36.6 points and 7.8 assists on 44.2 percent shooting.
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