Brooklyn Nets star James Harden apologized for how his Houston Rockets tenure ended, telling ESPN’s Rachel Nichols he felt as though the lead-up to last month’s blockbuster trade could have gone smoother.
“I don’t like it at all because that’s not who I am,” Harden said when asked to reflect on the weeks leading up to the trade. “The drama, the extra whatever you want to call it, the negativity for me. I don’t really like negative energy. That’s draining. So I don’t like how it necessarily happened.
“I feel like it could have happened a lot smoother, a lot easier, but it is what it is.”
Harden’s desire to leave Houston after eight years for a title contender was an open secret in the weeks leading up to the season. He began the year with a $50,000 fine for violating COVID-19 protocols after the league reviewed video of him socializing maskless at a club.
Things came to a head after a Jan. 12 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, when Harden proclaimed that the Rockets were “just not good enough” and that it was a situation that “can’t be fixed.”
Harden was traded to the Nets the following day.
The former MVP told Nichols he wasn’t trying to be selfish and that the “front office knew where I stood and what I wanted.”
“Apologize for how it went down, but I guess I had to do what I had to do in order to get to where I wanted to go,” Harden said. “And credit to Houston, they didn’t necessarily have to trade me to Brooklyn. They could have traded me anywhere, but those are some stand-up guys over there. And it ended up the right way, but just didn’t like how that month or two played out.”