NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 27: James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts along with Obi Toppin #1 of the New York Knicks and RJ Barrett #9 of the New York Knicks during the second half at Madison Square Garden on February 27, 2022 in New York City. Philadelphia 76ers won 125-109. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
By: Bob Cooney
If you are a Philadelphia sports fan and you hear the following words, eye rolls would surely be close to follow.
But I say this in an endearing way and I think you, the Philly fan, and you, James Harden, will understand when I say: “You two were made for one another.”
It is a phrase some lazy national media types, just weeks ago, would have used to mock the die-hards of our city when it came to Harden. The bearded one had garnered the label of malcontent after forcing his way out of two cities – Houston and Brooklyn – and there were those who thought it was a match made in heaven – the perpetual unhappy basketball star headed to the city where fans had just run Ben Simmons out of town. And you know somewhere some idiot even brought up the name Santa Clause.
But while those who think and said that Simmons was run out of town by the Sixers faithful are completely wrong, they were unknowingly completely right when they said Harden was a perfect fit here.
“Just exciting,” Harden said after last night’s win over the Knicks. “The love, the fans, it feels like home. Just the love, the support, man, from looking around, hearing, ‘We love you James.’ “That right there makes me go out and play harder, and I just wanted to do whatever it takes to get the win.”
Before the game while being announced as the first of the five Sixers starters, Harden soaked in the adulation. After a sub-par first half, Harden was the second Sixer player to get onto the court for second half warmups and proceeded to run six full-court sprints, just adding reason for the love. Then, after he deliverd a perfect length of the court pass to Mattise Thybulle for a dunk and a 118-102 lead, Harden raised both hands in the air, encouraging the crowds roar, and gave an affirmative head nod and wink.
Philly fans and James Harden, the national media was right. You two are made for each other, more than anyone ever could have imagined. Except the two of you, and that’s all that matters.