An NBA superstar conference call was oddly missing the game’s greatest scorer, James Harden
With each passing day, there is a new development between NBA players and owners, with both sides working on resuming the 2019-2020 season.
And on Monday, some of the league’s biggest stars came together for a conference call to help provide a united front for the players in their quest to finish what they started.
Yahoo Sources: NBA superstars LeBron James, Chris Paul, Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and Stephen Curry held private conference call on Monday and established united front in favor of resuming season. https://t.co/FZJfgP6WDu pic.twitter.com/6AZOWe0AXoArticle continues below ...
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) May 12, 2020
The call featured Chris Paul, the President of the National Basketball Players Association, as well as former league MVPs LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Steph Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
But there was one noticeable omission that immediately caught the eyes of fans and pundits alike.
There hasn’t been any explanation for why 6-time All-NBA performer and 2018 NBA MVP James Harden wasn’t on the conference call, but that hasn’t stopped the speculation, with some wondering if he was excluded due to his rocky relationship with Paul, his former teammate in Houston.
The two played together from 2017-2019, and their first season together produced a league-best 66 wins and a trip to the Western Conference Finals, where they would lose in seven games to the eventual champion Golden State Warriors.
After an injury-riddled second season in Houston, in which Paul would miss 24 games, the Rockets would once again be eliminated by the Warriors, this time in six games in the 2019 Western Conference Semifinals.
In the postgame press conference after Game 6, Harden alluded to changes that needed to be made to the roster.
“I know what we need to do. I know exactly what we need to do. We’ll figure it out this summer.”
Many thought he was alluding to Paul, considering the two had publicly been at odds before.
CP3 and Harden 👀 (via princejohndouglas/Instagram) pic.twitter.com/ihtshKJ39R
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 5, 2018
Two months after that playoff lost to the Warriors, the Rockets traded Paul to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for Russell Westbrook.
But even with the differences between the star guards, Shannon Sharpe says there’s no excuse for Harden to be left off the call.
“James Harden is an MVP, he’s an All-NBA player, he’s gone to several All-Star games, he’s led this league in scoring and he’s going to lead this league in scoring again. I understand that Chris Paul is the union president but this is not about like or dislike. This is about getting the best players and forming a united front.”
"James Harden is a superstar & should've been on that call, whether you like or dislike him. Everybody is not going to like everybody, but in a situation like this, it's not the time to like or dislike."@ShannonSharpe on Harden not on conference call to resume NBA pic.twitter.com/DkrAGxtG7j
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) May 14, 2020
It is possible that Harden was excluded due to the Houston Rockets already being represented by Russell Westbrook during the call.
No NBA franchise had multiple players on the call, with stars such as Anthony Davis, Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson being left off while their teammates participated.
Still, former NBA player Kendrick Perkins shared the same sentiments as Sharpe, maintaining that omitting Harden from the call was disrespectful.
“We’re talking about James Harden. He’s been the MVP or in the MVP conversation for the last three or four years. This guy is leading the league in scoring. He’s the face of Adidas, he’s probably going to go down as arguably one of the greatest shooting guards to ever play the game, and he’s not on the phone? That’s disrespectful to me, he’s a superstar and his voice and his opinion matters. He should have been on that phone conversation.”
Maybe James Harden can use this as more motivation going forward, adding to the list of perceived slights against him.
He already believes he should have won MVP over Antetokounmpo last season.
James Harden says Giannis had "an unbelievable season," but that the numbers he was putting up were "legendary." pic.twitter.com/zkSyQEoegw
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 14, 2019
And now, he has been left off arguably the most important phone meeting in NBA history.
Even with all he’s accomplished, Harden might still have more to prove.