James Harden officially made himself an ally of China with some comments he made over the weekend.
The Philadelphia 76ers guard was speaking at an Adidas press event in China, when someone asked him about his contract situation with his current team. Harden opted into a player option on his contract with the 76ers this summer, which means he can now be traded elsewhere.
Naturally, you would expect him to answer somewhere along the lines of, “I’m excited for the possibility of what comes next,” which would be a professional response. But Harden went in a completely different direction and took time out his day to throw Philadelphia’s President of Basketball Operations, Daryl Morey, under the bus.
James Harden: “Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of. Let me say that again: Daryl Morey is a liar and I will never be a part of an organization that he’s a part of.” pic.twitter.com/AmHJ0WwbF2— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 14, 2023
An isolated response like this in and of itself would be newsworthy, since most professional athletes don’t bash their superiors that fiercely in public. But Harden’s comments specifically toward Morey carry much more weight than meets the eye.
In October of 2019, Morey published a tweet that supported those in Hong Kong as China annexed that region. At the time, Morey was the general manager of the Houston Rockets, and Harden was that team’s top player.
China clapped back at the NBA for one of the organization's most prominent figures speaking out against the Chinese government, since the NBA and China are business partners. As a result, Morey deleted the tweet shortly thereafter, and the situation seemed to have been resolved.
However, that changed with Harden’s comments. Not only did he immaturely tear down the team’s president in the most unprofessional way, he brought up the past to gain some favor in the eyes of the Chinese audience he was speaking to. Morey is not a liar, and he was right to criticize China. But who cares about that when you’re trying to appease a communist demographic?
Harden has sold his reputation to China, likely for some sort of material gain. But his actions won’t earn him any support back in the States.
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