James All-Starden – The Beard scored 15 points, snatched six rebounds, and dropped three dimes while playing 26 minutes his All-Star game debut. It was not an MVP-level performance (hey CP3), but it was definitely more than a cameo (solid six minutes, KG). Also, in the midst of the oceans of electronic ink used in telling the stories of the All-Stars this weekend, Fran Blinebury’s profile of Harden floated to the top. After pointing out that Harden leads the league in three point plays, the article examines his unique style of drawing fouls:
“Carmelo and LeBron are bigger guys who can get to the basket and get fouled,” McHale said. “Derrick Rose protects the ball and absorbs the body blows. But James just has a unique ability to extend it out there and stay under control.”Harden shakes his head and laughs.“I do challenge people,” he said. “A lot of guys are tempted with me putting the ball out. They think they can steal it. If they don’t, it’s gonna be a foul. But I understand why they do it. It’s right there. I have no idea where that came from. I just picked it up one day and it stuck.”
Another interesting quote from Harden touches on his recruiting efforts:
Harden admits that he’s done some preliminary work as a pitchman as he’s worked his friendships and contacts this season.“No names, but I’ve talked to guys,” he said with a grin. “They listen.”And they clearly can see. For someone who used to be part of the chorus behind Durant and Westbrook, he’s fit into the role of leader, team-builder and recruiter as comfortably as a custom-tailored suit.
Another must-read profile comes from Hardwood Paroxysm, comparing Harden’s rise to the development of a young writer. Here’s the juicy part:
If Harden’s Sixth Man of the Year award recognized his mimicry, his All-Star berth recognizes him finding his voice. The player we see in Houston is the one we’d seen glimpses of in Oklahoma City. Freed from the constraints of the bench, Harden has total control of the offense. Perhaps more importantly, he has complete freedom to be himself. As with the “new” writer, we still see traces of Harden’s predecessors in his game, but every shot, every pass, every drive is his own. This is James Harden, realized.
Chandler Bang – Here’s how ESPN summed up Chandler Parsons’ performance in the Rising Stars Challenge:
The home crowd gave him a warm welcome and then another big roar of approval when he finished the game on a clear-out slam. Otherwise a solid night (6-for-9 for 13 points) for one of the most undervalued players in the league.
And in his down time, Parsons was turning in some solid interviews like this one:
Legendary – While no player can claim to be Michael Jordan’s rival, it seems that the destinies of MJ and Hakeem Olajuwon are eternally linked by cosmic forces. The Dream was honored by fellow retirees as the NBA’s “Legend of the Year” on the 50th birthday of His Airness. The awards at the Legends Brunch were pretty much a sweep for Rockets alumni–Yao Ming was named Ambassador of the Year, Dikembe Mutombo was named Humanitarian of the Year, Robert Horry was handed the Hometown Hero Award, Calvin Murphy earned the Pioneer Award, Clyde Drexler won the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Rudy Tomjonovich got the Houston Rockets Lifetime Achievement Award.
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