If you've got a keen eye, you've already spotted the BODYARMOR logo on Rockets ads boards and team towels since the start of this season. What you don't know: it's an emerging sports drink James Harden both endorses and has invested in (alongside Kobe Bryant).
This week, Harden's drink launches across Texas and, to recognize the occasion, James gave an exclusive interview to The Dream Shake. Because if you want Texas market penetration, you come to us (apparently).
Harden gave an honest reflection on the Rockets' season so far by pointing out inconsistent play, a poor record and the need to find a stride. James struck an optimistic tone by touting this Rockets team has what it takes saying it's a "good thing" the Rockets haven't hit their stride yet, because "we're gonna hit our peak right around playoffs."
The Rockets front man and probable All-Star acknowledges a need to make adjustments on the court and in the mental approach the team is taking. We discovered he doesn't have J.J. Watt's phone number and hasn't seen the new Star Wars movie. Someone, please complete the Houston sports universe and connect James Harden and J.J. Watt.
The Dream Shake: I asked some friends in Houston "What's a question you would ask James Harden?" Everyone wants to know: are you friends with J.J. Watt? Do the two of you text? Could you hit him up and the two of you hang out together?
James Harden: I actually don't have his contact. When we see each other obviously we speak. It's just a mutual respect thing. He's obviously doing his thing. Not only for the Texans, but he's one of the best players in the world in the NFL. So it's definitely a respect thing.
TDS: Daryl Morey said last week 'nobody's going to want to face the Rockets in the playoffs.' Is that a statement you agree with?
Harden: Yeah. I mean, the playoffs obviously is where the best players come out. Obviously we're not doing so well in the regular season, a lot of inconsistency, but I think we'll hit our stride. I think a lot of teams have hit their strides already and we haven't hit ours, which is a good thing. As the season go on and we get a feel for each other, good things are gonna start to happen. And hopefully we're gonna hit our peak right around playoffs.
TDS: For any changes the team needs to make between now and the playoffs do you feel that needs to be more on-the-court? Or more mental in the approach the team takes?
Harden: Both. You always, mentally, your focus level can go higher. Each and every game is different, obviously you got different scouting reports. We just gotta figure a way to mentally prepare ourselves for each and every game and take it one game at a time.
TDS: Do you guys get more hyped up for bigger games against harder opponents? You've laid wins on OKC, on the Spurs and on the Clips twice, took them to overtime one more time, and you look great when you're doing it. Is there a difference? Do you get more hyped up for those games?
Harden: For us, we're not in a position to get more hyped up for any particular game. We have to get ready for every game, we don't have the luxury to pick and choose which games we want to get hyped up for. Especially in the position we're in. Our record isn't so good. From here on out, like I said, we got to take each and every game one game at a time and be prepared to play.
TDS: Last season, the Rockets were one of the top defensive teams. What do you think is different between this year and last year?
Harden: Just different lineups. Different lineups. Guys getting injured. So it's kinda tough to get a rhythm defensively and offensively when you got different lineups, guys getting injured whatever the case may be. Like I said, we haven't figured it out yet. And that's the scary part. 'Cause once we can figure it out, we gotta get comfortable with each other and kinda, you know, know where guys like to be on both ends of the floor. And that makes our job a lot easier.
TDS: So I assume, if you don't already, you're going to have a good deal of BODYARMOR in the house. How's it going to be delivered to the house? Is there going to be a truck backing it up?
Harden: Yeah. For sure. We're talking about all different flavors too.
TDS: Is there going to be a James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Kristaps Porzingis commercial in the works?
Harden: Hopefully. BODYARMOR does a great job and they're working extremely hard to build the brand every single day. I'm very confident in the team and how extremely hard they're working. Not to mention, this year was the first year that BODYARMOR has backed up an NBA team, the Houston Rockets. And not only in Houston, but they're about to expand and have it all over Texas and Oklahoma City. That has to be exciting for the brand. Slowly, we're moving and chomping away at progress.
TDS: You've got good commercial game. Kobe Bryant was on Jimmy Kimmel Live last year and said if he had to start a franchise with anyone, he'd pick you. So, if you were going to start a commercial franchise, making commercials with somebody else, like five or six of them. Anyone in the NBA that's not your teammate, who would you pick?
Harden: There's a lot of guys who got some really good commercials. Russell Westbrook has got some really good commercials. Blake Griffin and his KIA, he has funny KIA commercials. There's a lot of good guys who got some good commercials. I'm just excited to be a part of that category.
TDS: In December, Daryl Morey called you a Jedi on Twitter. Have you seen the new Star Wars movie? And if you have, where would you rank it?
Harden: Nah. I haven't seen it yet. Is it good? I haven't even really gotten into the Star Wars kinda thing. So I haven't seen the movies.
TDS: If you're in Houston and you have a day off, you probably lay low. But if you're gonna go out. What's somewhere you hit up to go eat?
Harden: The Fish. It's a sushi place. Really nice. Vic and Anthony's Steakhouse. You got a variety, there's a lot of really good food options in Houston. That's one of the best things about the city.
TDS: Are you a barbecue guy? Or a Tex-Mex guy?
Harden: All of the above. Sushi. Fish. Seafood. Whatever it is. As long as it tastes good.
TDS: If you had to give a pre-game speech to hype up the Red Rowdies for a big game. What's something you'd tell them or a message you would give to them?
Harden: I don't know a pre-game speech to hype up a group of people that are already hyped up. I would just be happy to be around them. They bring all the energy. No matter what, they're always on point. And that's something that the city of Houston and the Toyota Center appreciate about the Red Rowdies.
TDS: This past week I went out to watch a young guy named De'Aaron Fox play. He's committed to Kentucky, a national to prospect. What words of advice would you give to someone like De'Aaron or any other Houston athlete who's maybe chasing a dream, but they still got a long way to go.
Harden: Stay focused. Stay focused. There's going to be a lot of distractions. Different people coming your way wanting things. Stay focused on the task and on your dream. Obviously finish high school strong and continue to work on your craft. Stay focused.
TDS: Thanks, James.