James Harden has heard all the narratives by now. As the Houston Rockets continue chasing a championship, there is mounting pressure on Harden to finally get it done this year. A falling-out between him and Chris Paul ended their partnership this summer, although they were just one game away from qualifying to the 2018 NBA Finals. With Kevin Durant out of the Western Conference, the Rockets swung for the fences by bringing the much more explosive Russell Westbrook to replace Paul.
"If we don't win, I'll take all the blame for that," said Harden during his media meeting, as per CBS Sports.
"That's why you have to go out there and win. That's why we work extremely hard in the offseason to bring players in, or whatever is necessary to give ourselves that chance to win. I know what's at stake, I know that if we don't win James Harden and such-and-such don't get the credit for it. They're going to talk down, or create a narrative of whatever they want to create. This ain't my first rodeo," expressed Harden to the reporters in attendance.
Harden is often the subject of much criticism for his style of play, which hasn't necessarily translated well in the playoffs. His former teammate Paul wasn't a fan of the isolation offense ran by Harden, and wanted to improve ball movement. Their differences eventually spelled doom for the Rockets, as they failed to make it past the Golden State Warriors in the second round of the Western Conference.The arrival of Westbrook could assist the Rockets in reaching a new level of play. Much like Harden, he was also in need of a new experience following the Oklahoma City Thunder's first-round exit. Once the Thunder traded Paul George to the Los Angeles Clippers, it opened up the door for the Rockets to acquire Westbrook in a shocking move.
Earlier this month, Harden stated that he was looking forward to playing alongside Westbrook, and going into 'war, postseason, with somebody that is, like, a dog' in the upcoming season, as previously noted by The Inquisitr. The feeling is mutual as Westbrook warned that NBA teams should be scared of the pairing.
One thing's for sure: the Western Conference is going to be a bloodbath come late April. With several teams going all-in for a title, Harden and the Rockets will have to be at their very best to achieve their goal.