James Harden believes a media narrative was behind Giannis Antetokounmpo beating him to being named NBA MVP for 2018-19.
Rockets guard and 2018 MVP Harden averaged 36.1 points in the regular season – the most since Michael Jordan tallied 37.1 in 1986-87 – and went on a stunning run of 32 consecutive 30-point games.
However, Antetokounmpo was the best player for the Bucks, who finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA. He averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals per game.
“[It was] one for the books. Even when I’m gone, they’re going to talk about it,” Harden told 97.9 The Box of his season
“It’s out of my control. Once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year, I think they just take that narrative and just run with it the entire year,” Harden told 97.9 The Box. “I don’t want to get into details. All I can do is control what I can do, and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level. There’s only a few other seasons that anybody has ever done that before.
“People were tuned in to how many points I was going to score the next game. It was a thing. But I can’t control that. The only thing I can control is coming back next year and being better than I was, and winning a championship.”
— NBA (@NBA) June 25, 2019
Earlier this offseason, the Rockets dealt Chris Paul to the Thunder to add 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook, and Harden is eager to get going.
“I’m excited. Obviously, Chris did an unbelievable job the two years that he was here. He’s helped our organization and team a tremendous amount. But we have most of the same core guys coming back, and then we add Russ,” he said. “We all know how Russ plays, and he’s even a greater guy off the court. It’s difficult playing against him, just because he plays with that aggression. He plays with that anger. But it’s going to be better to have him on our team now.
“Now we’ve got him and PJ [Tucker] … crazy together. We’ve got a lot of guys who are returning and then you add Russ, it’s something special.”
On potential opponents in next year’s playoffs, Harden added: “It don’t even matter because we focus on ourselves. We’ve got so much talent in that locker room, and our organization is so great.
“We don’t pay attention to other teams. We just focus on what we control, our team, and being the best we can be. Whoever we face, let’s get it on.”