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Rockets GM Daryl Morey defends ‘polarizing’ James Harden

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By Jason Rowan

James Harden is the NBA’s version of an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

Obviously one of the most gifted offensive players in the NBA, the Houston Rockets superstar’s renowned deficiencies on the defensive endof the court — along with his inability to make his teammates better — has prompted as many differing opinions about him as his impressive points-per-game average.

But to hear it from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, the only reason Harden is so “polarizing” of a player is because people don’t take the time to watch and truly appreciate him as a player.

“He’s only a polarizing figure to people who don’t watch,” Morey told Basketball Insiders, via Pro Basketball Talk. “Players voted him MVP [in 2014-15] for a reason. He’s had a winning team every season of his career, with multiple Conference Finals appearances.”

It’s hardly surprising that Morey would go to bat for Harden. He is, after all, Houston’s best player and the linchpin to any hope the team can improve upon a disappointing 41-41 2015-16 campaign that followed an appearance in the Western Conference Finals the previous season.

Further, it’s not the first time Morey has defended the enigmatic superstar. When yet another video surfaced in March that highlighted Harden’s patented disinterested play on defense, Morey took to Twitter to blast the critics and naysayers.

Harden said afterward he appreciated how Morey so vigorously defended him. Odds are good he’ll feel the same way about the general manager’s most recent comments.

It nevertheless remains to be seen how the Rockets will fare now that Dwight Howard has taken his talents to his hometown of Atlanta to play for the Hawks. To say Harden and Howard’s game didn’t mesh at all would be an understatement. In fact, rumors from early on last season indicated the relationship between the two was in terrible shape.

With that in mind, the Rockets now have given every indication that Harden is the team’s unquestioned Alpha Dog. And the organization seems to have accepted it only will go as far as he can take them.

Where that ends up, however, is anyone’s guess at this moment.