What do James Harden and the Dallas Cowboys have in common? Here's a hint: It's not that they both play in Texas...
James Harden was the target of a third-degree burn on Sunday, and he didn't even have to get crossed over on the court to suffer it. Lawson caught some flak by way of the Dallas Cowboys, thanks to a reposted Instagram picture from Denver Nuggets player Ty Lawson. While the Cowboys were getting thumped by the San Francisco 49ers, Lawson posted a Photoshopped pic of Harden with an over-ear headpiece. The caption: Cowboys defensive coordinator.
The burn, for all of you that either don't get it or revel in having jokes explained, is that the Cowboys don't play defense. That was in evidence on Sunday, as the 49ers shellacked Harden's fellow Texas-based athletes, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and then pretty much coasting the rest of the way. The Cowboys, by comparison, scored just three points in the first half, though they scored an additional 14 points in the second half. It was never close, though.
And what's all that got to do with James Harden, you ask? Well, the burn is a callback to Harden's reputation as a weak defender. This is a thing: James Harden doesn't play defense. There is footage. Here is some of that footage.
Yes, that was painful. We're sure Harden isn't a fan of videos like this, but it is what is is, no?
Aside from his considerable defensive shortcomings, Harden has other things to worry about. Since the Houston Rockets signed Harden to a five-year, $80 million contract, the team hasn't lived up to expectations. Harden's tenure with the Rockets looks even worse in light of the fact that the Rockets also brought in Dwight Howard, said by some to be the best center in the league, last year. Expectations for the squad featuring Harden and Howard were quite high going into last season. Those expectations were not met.
Harden and Howard were taken out in the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs, losing in six games to the Portland Trailblazers.
Rockets fans and league observers are still trying to figure out what the squad needs to do to realize the promise of pairing Harden with Howard. It's possible that one remedy would be to get the two superstars to work on their leadership skills. Reportedly, the happy-go-lucky nature of the Harden and Howard regime is the thing that led to Miami Heat star Chris Bosh electing to keep his talents in South Beach instead of teaming up with Harden and crew.
Harden isn't worried about the team's prospects going forward, though. Speaking a while back with The Philippine Star, Harden was optimistic about the outlook with him and Howard as the Rockets' foundation, even if he wasn't terribly generous in his estimation of his teammates' value.
"Dwight and I are the cornerstones of the Rockets," Harden said. "The rest of the guys are role players or pieces that complete our team."
Confident words, no doubt, but they'd probably be easier to swallow with a dash of perimeter defense. Barring that, Harden could always get himself a position in Dallas' coaching staff, as he's shown that they're on the same page.