Harden's Rockets Target OKC:
Dramatic opportunity for revenge? Or just foreshadowing?
The break up. It's a story as old as the human race. I'm certain even a few scorned cave men trudged out into the wilderness to slay the biggest sabretooth tiger in the valley and rub it in that slut ex-cave woman's face. "See what a mighty hunter I am? You could have had this pelt for a blanket but nooooo you left me for Ugg because his cave had higher ceilings. Think about THAT when you see him carrying that puny club around!" It's a natural reaction. Someone has called your value in life into question. What they're really saying is that their situation would be better without you in it (for whatever reason).
So is that the emotional force at play here with Harden and the Thunder? I think that's the way that the media desperately wants it to be, but I don't know if that's the reality. Harden predictably (and correctly) gave us the trite old chesnut of "just another game" when he was asked about it. The reflexive and immediate response from the pundits and intertubes is, "Well you know deep down he wants to score 40." I just don't get that impression about James. I just don't. That mentality doesn't fit what I know of his personality. Here's a guy who practically pleaded to be taken by a team where he knew he'd be a role player, but he'd have a chance to win. To be part of something bigger than a night in, night out stat contest (Melo that was aimed at you). When he left there was no real drama to speak of. That is shocking when you consider the absolute circus that precluded Melo, Dwight, CP, etc. Harden's trade? Business decision. Strictly a numbers call from OKC's point of view, and to some degree Harden's as well. The only real dramatic comments came in a post game interview when Harden balked at the figure from the media that he was reportedly offered. There's no bad blood between he and his former teammates. They're still "brothers" as they used to say. This is nothing like Ray Allen skipping town on the first thing smoking to bail on the aging Celtic core's possible last run at a title. That first meeting with the Heat? THAT was drama.
So is Harden silently harboring some of the affore mentioned primal feelings of rejection and looking to club a sabretooth tonight? I don't know. I get the sense that he understands that he's not going to get some sort of revenge by showing his man up on the court. The real revenge? The real benefit of a win tonight? Making a simple statement. Sending the Thunder a message stuffed with some foreshadowing.
OKC is a young, talented team. I think everyone expects them to be at or near the top for a while to come. Harden needs to take his team in there and show the Thunder and their fans: "My new team? We're young and talented too. We're on our way up just like you guys were a few years ago. We want to be where you are. So everytime you see "HOU" on your schedule, you better stock up on Bengay cause it's gonna be a dogfight."
Or in short, "Meet your new rival."