He plays with the style my 13 year-old self aspired to, while making decisions in a way that only my 32 year-old self can fully appreciate. He is not the first NBA player to fully integrate style and efficiency, just the first for which that combination has so thoroughly resonated for me. I watch James Harden play and get to enjoy the full spectrum of basketball experiences. He is, at his essence, what I want basketball to be.
Whistleblowing – As much as Houston’s offense relies on Harden’s ability to get to the line, refs who swallow the whistle typically signal a tough night for the Rockets. Now thanks to Neil Paine (ESPN Insider) we can know when to expect how much holding and grabbing will be allowed. First, the refs the Rockets probably want to see (in any situation that doesn’t involve Motiejunas defending the post):
Zach Zarba (whose games saw plus-1.1 personal fouls per 100 possessions relative to NBA average), Scott Foster (plus-1.0), Josh Tiven (plus-0.7)
And now the guys who they don’t want to see (coincidentally, two of these guys were on the floor for the Pacers and Grizzlies games last week):
Ken Mauer (whose games saw minus-1.1 personal fouls per 100 possessions relative to NBA average), Ron Garretson (minus-1.0), Haywoode Workman (minus-0.8)
The good news is that Paine says refs on either end of the spectrum are rarely chosen to officiate playoff games.
Daryl-erys Mor-garyen – Grantland crossbred the NBA playoff with Game of Thrones last week. Netw3rk compares the Rockets to House Targaryen. Note: your experience is not complete unless you click the link and see the photoshopped splendor of James Harden’s head on a dragon:
But Daenerys managed to recover in a way no one expected because she saw the true value in holding on to something that others would have simply sold: her three dragon eggs. She held firm and eventually the eggs hatched: Asik, Lin, and Harden.
[Imagines Morey, having just signed Harden, nude in his office surrounded by ashes as his staff looks on in amazement.]
Steve McPherson makes a counteroffer of making the Rockets the Night’s Watch, but frankly, I like the dragon angle better:
And here’s the clincher: Harden as Jon Snow. Banished from House Stark, a.k.a. Oklahoma City, he finds a new home where he can become more than just a sixth man. He can become a leader. And wow: I just realized there are five legitimate Stark children, which really makes Snow a strong Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Blogging: A Defense – A long-time writer at the Dream Shake, who also happens to be a securities analyst, makes a persuasive case for the role of sports bloggers by comparing us to what he does in his day job:
It is true that sports bloggers make remarks, offer opinions, and assume a certain amount of authority in their writing and analysis. They do this despite having little to no inside information about the team, no access to team officials or players. Their vision only extends into what is freely available to anyone: watching games, looking at statistics, taking in press coverage.
However, it turns out that there is a massive professional world that operates in almost the exact same circumstances, though with far greater stakes. People in that world make decisions on the basis of similar crumbs of information, risking billions of dollars every day. It’s called Wall Street.
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