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#pounditSaturday, January 28, 2023

James Harden reportedly had issues with 1 Nets teammate

James Harden

James Harden’s situation with the Brooklyn Nets escalated remarkably quickly. As recently as a month ago, there was no indication the guard had any issues with Brooklyn. Skip ahead to Thursday, and Harden was shipped to Philadelphia as a result of his apparent unhappiness.

Much will be said and written about the issues Harden may have had with the Nets. But one specific teammate was apparently one of his big issues.

Harden never meshed with Kyrie Irving, according to Joe Vardon of The Athletic. Vardon offered examples of the somewhat awkward interactions between the two players.

When the Nets played in Cleveland on Jan. 17, Irving reportedly lit sage in the locker room, a Native American ritual he occasionally uses in order to cleanse negative energy. Harden was reportedly baffled by such instances from Irving, and one source characterized the two of having a “weird vibe” between them that went both ways.

Harden’s frustration reportedly grew when he had to play home games as the lone member of Brooklyn’s star trio, with Kevin Durant injured and Irving unwilling to take the COVID vaccine. As the only member of the trio without a championship, Harden reportedly found Irving’s reluctance to get vaccinated frustrating, as it would keep Irving out of home playoff games.

The feeling was not one-sided. Vardon describes a “well-placed source” who said Irving was “eager” to see Harden dealt when trade rumors began to fly.

We had seen previous reports indicating that Harden was not pleased that he had been thrust into the alpha role in Brooklyn. This might add some context to the reports. Injuries happen, so Harden didn’t hold that against Durant. Irving could theoretically change his vaccination situation if he wanted to, but he has declined to do so. That contributed to Harden’s reported issues.

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