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After 10 straight seasons as an NBA All-Star, James Harden was left out of the league’s mid-season showcase this past season. But according to a recent report, that was by his own doing. 

Harden was absent from the league’s initial All-Star ballot, but after other players were withheld from the game due to injuries, he received a request to be an injury replacement from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.

Harden, though, upset about his relegation to reserve status, didn’t respond to Silver for several days. Silver just wanted assurance from Harden that if named a substitute for the game, Harden would show up and play. 

The lack of a prompt response from Harden — “he was pouting,” the report said — was enough for Silver to move on and select another reserve. By the time Harden finally did get back, it was too late. Pascal Siakam was named as the East’s reserve. 

That appeared to be the beginning of a rocky sled for Harden and Philly, as the squad slowly began to realize that the aging superstar still wanted to be treated like a prime one. Disagreements with Doc Rivers on shot selection would soon follow, while questions surrounding Harden’s ability to run a championship-level offense increased.

And it came to a head in the spring. The Sixers fell in the Eastern Conference semifinals to Boston. Rivers was fired two days later. And Harden, despite re-signing with Philly, apparently did so with confirmation from general manager Daryl Morey that he’d be traded. It was Harden’s third trade request in four years.

In mid-August, after Morey announced he had no intentions to trade him, Harden publicly claimed that Morey was “a liar,” and that he’d “never be a part of an organization he’s a part of.”

“James felt like Daryl was ghosting him,” an anonymous source said. “He felt betrayed.”

“James takes things very personally,” another revealed. “When he feels like he’s been wronged, he can be very stubborn.”

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Morey claimed he’d be “thrilled” if Harden went back on his trade ask.

“James is a Hall of Famer, one of the best players offensively to ever do it,” Morey said in July during a radio interview. “We either are going to move him for a player that helps us win now, we’re going to get assets that allow us to go get a good player in the short term, or we’re going to continue to wait and continue to look for other players like a [Tyrese] Maxey or a Joel [Embiid] to take a step forward in that situation.”

For now, though, the Sixers and Harden are stuck in a curious situation. They have a reigning MVP, a young budding star, and a disgruntled aging one who doesn’t want to play for them. And it doesn’t look like he will anytime soon.

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National Basketball Association

Philadelphia 76ers

James Harden


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