I don’t want to be hard on James Harden. We all ... look different after this year. Cooped up in our house, downing comfort foods more often than we have in the five years previous combined. For me, it’s peanut butter M&Ms. You have yours. Something you run to when it all gets too much, which it does every couple days in 2020. Or every 12 minutes.
Sure, Harden’s world doesn’t seem difficult, doesn’t seem like he could get to a dark place, doesn’t crawl up into a corner with a Baconator or three and eat his feelings. He’s got an MVP, he’s one of the defining players in the league. He got to that place in NBA life that only a select few can: The power to force a move. But hey, a large pizza is therapy for everyone in every situation in every level. You’ve stared at an empty pizza box in the kitchen, and longed for the serenity and escape it once provided before you return to the level of hell that your life and world have become.
NBA players, they’re not so different than us.
Still, when you’ve been agitating for a trade that will throw Houston into a full rebuild and transform whatever team you end up with, and you’ve been doing it in the most passive aggressive way possible by acting like a jackass everywhere but training camp instead of just facing the music, and then you show up looking like James “Grim Reaper” Roper racing after the ice cream truck (that’s my third Great White Hype reference in my tenure here, Carron Phillips and I are in a race), let’s say it’s probably not the best look.
Let’s try to be fair to Harden. For the past few years, he’s had realistic dreams of winning championships, and in the NBA that means something different to the guys who are the spearhead of the team. The Rockets even came pretty damn close, if they hadn’t started hurling feces from three in Game 7 three years ago. Harden didn’t just think of ascending to that plane, he actually got a pretty good look at it. Then he threw up yet another brick. And he’s been chasing that glimpse ever since.
And now it’s gone. The chase has become more desperate. So who hasn’t craved a Snickerdoodle Blizzard when dreams feel like they’ve spiraled beyond your reach?
Or maybe Harden just wants to go somewhere where he doesn’t have to wear red. It’s not a flattering color for his current status. Unless he’s going to burst through your living room wall bellowing, “OH YEAH!”
Here’s one for you. Authorities in Australia arrested a 40-year-old man over suspicion of placing corrupt bets on Ping Pong tournaments in Ukraine. See what happens when you take sports away for months?
It’s a wild story, and one we might see more of as the proliferation of sports betting continues. There was some buzz on Monday night about a hockey game in Sweden, though nothing more than that, so far. Tennis has had problems with match-fixing for years, especially in lower-level tournaments.
With the amount of money being bet now, the amount of people sitting around with not much else to do, and the sheer amount of events that can be bet on, this might just become a regular happening.
The spate of Manchester City’s flat-assed performances might be getting to manager Pep Guardiola. Though you have to hand it to him. Instead of merely complaining about the amount of stoppage time added to the second half of their 1-1 draw with West Brom, Pep figured he could try and stop the board being raised. If they don’t show the number, it could be anything, right?
Sadly for Pep, the four minutes wasn’t enough to find a winner. And given their recent humdrum form and the way West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone has been playing, that number could have been 14 and it probably wouldn’t have mattered.