Ahead of the Houston Rockets venturing into Milwaukee on Tuesday to face the Bucks, Adidas went and did something peculiar.
In a local newspaper, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the sports brand giant took out a full-page with a message to Bucks fans and supporters, alike, who think James Harden isn’t MVP.
With the Rockets in town, Adidas took out a full-page James Harden ad in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “You’re free to think James Harden deserves to be MVP. Or that he doesn’t.” pic.twitter.com/vDxbFjKesM— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) March 26, 2019
The root message of the newsletter isn’t actually an explanation as to why Harden is the MVP of this season. Actually, it’s nowhere close to that message, nor does it even mention Giannis Antetokounmpo, Harden’s primary competition for MVP. Instead, it simply states that you’re free to think Harden’s MVP or not, but it won’t change his style of play because, much like his style of play, he believes in “freedom.”
It reads things like:
“Why does James Harden draw so many fouls?”
(Harden): “Because they’re there to be drawn. If you can pull an advantage out of thin air, doesn’t the feat justify the action? Feel free to disagree.”
Or the more titular excerpt of the piece:
“The point is, whomever you vote for MVP, it won’t change James Harden. He feels free to play the game how he plays it. James Harden is free to be James Harden. And you are free to be you.
He hopes you feel the same way. But understand if you don’t.”
The ad appears to be the inaugural piece to Adidas’ #FreeToHarden campaign - a slight at those who don’t like his style of play.
You’re free to think the league’s best player deserves his second MVP...— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) March 26, 2019
Or not.#FreeToHarden @JHarden13 pic.twitter.com/jed976rETc
Harden also debuted this pretty dope hoodie ahead of the game, along with P.J. Tucker’s “I’m with the MVP” shirt.
RT if you’re with The MVP#TissotStyleWatch | @TISSOT pic.twitter.com/0C6pBFSGV9— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) March 26, 2019
In a world where people dread putting themselves out there, it’s fun and bold for Adidas to leave themselves so susceptible to mockery, especially considering the Rockets lost that night. The Bucks’ Twitter account definitely had themselves some fun with it.
It also isn’t the first time that Adidas’ basketball department got directly involved in campaigning (technically not campaigning this time) for one of their players. Last year, Donovan Mitchell donned the Rookie definition sweatshirt in his battle against Ben Simmons for Rookie of the Year. The summer before that, Adidas dropped an MVP colorway for Harden’s Vol. 1 sneaker, despite the fact that Russell Westbrook walked away with the trophy that year.
Still, at the end of the day it’s just one massive sports conglomerate wanting to go head-to-head with another. Simmons and Antetokounmpo are both Nike signature athletes, with the latter athlete turning down Adidas’ advances the last time he was a sneaker free agent. Let’s all just hope it ages well for Adidas and, most importantly, Harden.