Sportress of Blogitude

James Harden: ‘It’s kind of hard’ to hear criticism from ex-players

For all the praise James Harden’s outstanding, MVP-caliber performance this season has elicited, there nevertheless are a fair share of detractors who question the aesthetics of the Houston Rockets superstar’s brand of so-called “hero ball.”

Harden, in an interview this week with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, admits the criticism, particularly when it comes from NBA icons like Kobe Bryant and Scottie Pippen, occasionally gets to him.

“Yeah, I hear it. It’s hard not to hear it — especially nowadays,” Harden told Nichols. “You have social media. You have fans that are reading what people saying and ask me about it …

“I try my best to block [criticism] out, but it’s kind of hard, you know? Especially when it’s coming from like ex-NBA players, you know? So it makes it more difficult, but, obviously, everybody’s entitled to their own opinion.”

As mentioned, the likes of Bryant and Pippen, among others, have emerged as detractors of Harden’s style of play.

Bryant, meanwhile, contended earlier this month that Harden’s play is not a style that is “ever gonna win championships.”

Harden has taken it upon himself to lead the Rockets during a season the team has been ravaged by injuries. The dynamic guard at times almost single-handedly wills the Rockets to victories. He is in the midst of a stretch of mind-boggling basketball, having scored at least 30 points in 31 consecutive games, tying Wilt Chamberlain for the second-longest such streak in NBA history.

“The scoring streak is obviously amazing, but it’s something that I just had to do because of our situation,” Harden said. “We had all the injuries and guys in and out of the lineup and things like that. So I think the streak just started happening, and now it’s like something to talk about.

“But it’s not something that I’m really honestly focused on. That’s something I have to do in order to give us a chance to win the game.”

The Rockets have posted a 21-10 record during Harden’s scorching-hot scoring streak.