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#pounditSunday, November 27, 2022

James Harden has praise for 1 unexpected rival

James Harden dribbles

Feb 25, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Philadelphia 76ers guard James Harden (1) brings the ball up court against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the first quarter at Target Center. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

At just 21 years old, one NBA player has already earned the respect of former MVP James Harden.

Harden pulled up to one of Rico Hines’ famed offseason scrimmages on the UCLA campus over the weekend. Among the other participants was Toronto Raptors forward Scottie Barnes. During one particular possession, Barnes picked up Harden on defense and refused to give up a centimeter. He hounded Harden all the way down the floor, eventually forcing the Philadelphia 76ers star into a bricked midrange shot.

It was an impressive sequence from Barnes, especially during a pickup game where defense is often optional. Some time later, Harden complimented the reigning Rookie of the Year Barnes for his effort.

“I like the competitive spirit that’s going on here,” said Harden. “Like Scottie picked me up full court. It’s pickup, f–king first week of August. You don’t give a f–k. He got that mindset. He a dog. Everybody should have that mindset, especially if you wanna get paid, take care of your families.”

Barnes entered the NBA Draft last year with less hype than guys like Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green. But it was Barnes who won Rookie of the Year honors, starting 74 games and making a loud two-way impact for a Raptors team that earned 48 wins and a playoff berth.

Harden’s praise is a bit unexpected since the 76ers and Raptors had a bitter playoff battle this past year (which Philly won in six games). Barnes has also clowned some of Harden’s teammates since the season ended. But as a wise ancient Greek philosopher once eloquently stated, “Game recognize game.”


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