Getty Rockets’ James Harden (L) & Ex-Celtic Ray Allen (R).
As ESPN‘s Jalen Rose put it, James Harden is an “acquired taste.” One of the most lethal scorers in NBA history, he also happens to move to the beat of his own drum.
On the surface, acquiring a former league MVP and reigning three-time scoring champ such as Harden seems like a no-brainer. However, his ball-centric style could prove to do more harm than good if not placed in the proper situation.
One of those potential situations is with the Boston Celtics, whom Harden reportedly added to his list of preferred teams were he to be traded. Yet, even if wing Jaylen Brown were involved in a deal to bring Harden to Massachusetts, it would still leave the ever-rising Jayson Tatum behind for Harden to duke it out with for looks, all while operating within the confinements of Brad Stevens’ pro-ball movement philosophy.
If Harden were to buy in, the outcome could be all-time great. The question is, would he? Ex-Boston Celtic Ray Allen weighed in on the Harden dilemma recently during an interview with SI’s Howard Beck, during which Allen drew parallels between his coming of age in Boston and the Rockets guard’s future outlook.
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Ray Allen: ‘You Have to Make a Huge Sacrifice’
Allen knows a thing or two about sacrificing for the good of the team. A walking bucket during his latter years in Milwaukee and throughout the entirety of his time with the Supersonics, Allen averaged at least 21.3 ppg for eight straight seasons from the 1997-98 season through the 2006-07 season.
However, one thing continued to evade him, an NBA title. That all changed when he was dealt to the Boston Celtics in 2007. Allen’s hunger to be the Alpha dog of an offense took a backseat to his desire to hoist a Larry O’Brien trophy, which he did in 2008 with the Celtics and once again in 2013 as a role player with the Heat.
“There’s a point where you have to be real with yourself and ask yourself, `What do I need to do to move to the next level?’” Allen said. “A lot of guys say they will make those changes and adjustments. But it’s a difficult, difficult process, and you have to make a huge sacrifice.”
Allen admits shifting his philosophy as a ballplayer wasn’t easy off the cusp.
“It was extremely frustrating,” Allen admitted, “because I had to readjust to how I thought about offense, and how much about my offense, to play the game.”
Ray Allen to James Harden: ‘What Do You Truly Want?’
Allen went on to question, would Harden be willing to make a similar sacrifice as he had, were the Rocket star dealt to a team such as Boston who already has a Jayson Tatum at their disposal or Brooklyn with Kevin Durant?
“Would he be willing to come together with a new group of guys and trust that they can carry him as much as he thinks that he can carry them?” Allen asked. “Everybody gives something up that they don’t want to give up.”
“I believe he’s capable of doing it,” Allen declared, before posing this self-reflective question to Harden.
“You got to ask yourself: What do you truly want?”
Harden, 31, went on record a while back noting that he wants to “win multiple championships.” In that case, it may be time to look himself in the mirror.