The Best Show Ever?: Weekdays 2pm – 6pm

The Best Show Ever?: Weekdays 2pm – 6pm

The Best Show Ever?: Weekdays 2pm – 6pm

James Harden is finally someone else’s problem. The Sixers traded him to the Clippers, ridding themselves of the drama. And today James Harden had his introductory press conference and proved the Sixers right for not wanting to resign him. Not just because he was somehow an hour late to his own press conference, but because of the nonsense that came out of his mouth once he finally showed up.

You see, James Harden is a victim. Nothing that happened last year was his fault. Even though he was already making his escape plans by leaking his desire to leave mid-season to Woj, Harden was a team player last year. He sacrificed his game, according to him. And the Sixers weren’t letting him be himself.

Malika Andrews on Twitter: ""I am not a system player. I am a system."Full comment from James Harden: / Twitter"

"I am not a system player. I am a system."Full comment from James Harden:

What a crock of nonsense. The line “I am not a system, I am a system,” sounds like the type of thing someone would write when making a movie with the cliche selfish athlete character. But Harden is a real person and actually thinks that way about himself. Never mind the fact he tried that in game 6 against the Celtics, they let him do things his way, and it failed horribly.

Harden has always been an incredibly talented player. But now that he can’t do all the things he used to be able to do, he is clearly having a hard time coping. But even when he was at his peak, he was never the guy he is painting himself as. A quick look at his history in the playoffs proves that. So let’s take a look back at that history, and all the times James Harden failed to be the “system” in the playoffs. Because Harden’s massive ego clearly needs a reality check.

Here are 14 times Mr. “I am a System” looked awful in the playoffs:


  • Rookie Season Vs The Lakers

    In fairness to Harden, he was a rookie, and coming off the bench. So this was one you can absolutely forgive him for. He scored just 2 points off the bench, going 1 for 3 in an elimination game vs the Lakers that year. He did get a couple of steals, and rebounds. No one expects a rookie to step up in an elimination game. And he wasn’t even the great 6th man he would grow into with the Thunder yet. So he gets a pass for this one.

    James Harden in the Paint being guarded by pau Gasol

    (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

  • NBA Finals vs Heat in 2012

    Two years later, he was the guy though. Yes, he was on a team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. But he was the 3rd guy on the team, and they were relying on him to score. Too bad in three games he couldn’t even get to double digits. After averaging 16.8 pts per game in the regular season, it fell to about 12 in the Finals. While Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook each saw their points per game improve in the series.

    He was not the guy for the Thunder that time like he would go on to be with the Rockets. But he was supposed to be a guy. It would be like if Maxey was getting held to 7 points every game in the NBA Finals. He wouldn’t get as much heat as either Harden or Embiid would have. But it would very much be worth criticizing. It has been his one and only chance so far to play in the Finals. And he did not show up to help his team when they needed him.

    James Harden guarding Lebron James in the NBA Finals

    (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)


  • Game 3 Vs Warriors in 2015 Western Conference Finals

    James Harden did help drag the Rockets to a few Western Conference Finals. The first of which came in 2015, vs the Warriors of course. Now beating the Warriors is a very tough task. That team was a dynasty. If James Harden went out swinging but just got beat by a better team, it would be hard to hold it against him. But that is not how it went down.

    The Rockets lost in 5 games.  And in game 3, with his team already down 0-2. He was really bad. 17 points on 16 shots bad. Yes, he followed it up by being a hero in game 4 by scoring 45 points to avoid the sweep. But if he wasn’t so bad in game 3, maybe they wouldn’t have been in danger of getting swept. Just like this season where it’s hard to give him credit for games 1 and 4 when he was so bad in the other games, it is hard to credit him in that 2015 series since he was part of the reason they were down 0-3 to begin with. And as we are about to see, it got even worse in game 5.

    Hames Harden on the bench in game 3 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals.

    (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)


  • Game 5 in the 2015 Western Conference Finals

    Harden was even more of a disaster two games later. He continued his poor shooting from game 3 and added a major turnover problem. 14 points on 11 shots, and 12 turnovers. Nearly more turnovers than points. In a game that was win or go home. Yea good for you Harden. You had your 45-point game. But if you sandwich that with two games where you are a liability on the floor, is that actually impressive?

    James Harden walking off the court in game 5 of the 2015 Western Conference Finals

    (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Game 1 vs the Warriors in 2016 First Round

    The next season, the Rockets had the misfortune of drawing the Warriors in round 1. And once again, the Rockets barely put up a fight. Also once again, James Harden was less than optimal. Game 1 started it off on a bad note. Just 17 points on 19-shot attempts. He had 6 turnovers and just 2 assists to go with it. All part of a 26-point loss to open the series. And remember, this was his first playoff game since that ugly 12 turnover game to end the last season.

    James Harden driving into the paint in game 1 vs the Warriors

    (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

  • Game 4 vs the Warriors in 2016 First Round

    He was good to decent in the next 2 games. As we saw this season, Harden can go from looking awful to good game to game. But there is always another bad game coming up. In this series, it was game 4. After scoring 28 and then 35 in games 2 and 3, he went back under 20. Just 18 points, while barely shooting .300. Only 4 turnovers though, so that is an improvement. It dropped the Rockets to 1-3 in the series. He did play well in game 5 where they were eliminated. But again, if he played well in games 1 and 4, maybe they aren’t down 1-3 to face elimination in game 5.

    LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – AUGUST 06: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets brings the ball up court against the Los Angeles Lakers in the second half at The Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on August 6, 2020 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. 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 Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)

    James Harden driving on the warriors in the playoffs

    (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

  • Game 2 vs Spurs in 2nd Round of 2017 Playoffs

    Next season, they got to avoid the Warriors in the playoffs. The problem is they ran into a different team that had been a dynasty. The Spurs. And it was the same story for James Harden once again. Hot one night, ice cold another. Never any consistency. He was fine in the game 1 win. But then with a chance to go up 2-0, he fell on his face. Just 20 points on 17 shots. The Rockets lost by 25. 2 for 9 from 3. 3 of 17 from the field. Sound familiar? In typical Harden fashion, he followed it up with some great games, including one where he scored 43. But it got the Rockets to down 3-2. And then game 6 happened.

    James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets drives against LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs during Game Two of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals at AT&T Center on May 3, 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.

    (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Game 6 vs the Spurs in 2017 2nd Round

    10 points. 10 points in an elimination game. By the guy who is supposed to be the guy on the team. Embiid scored 15 in an elimination game, and we treated it as the worst thing ever (which he deserved blame for). Harden scored just 10. And he is the ball handler. No one needs to get him the ball. It was in his prime too. He won the MVP the next season. After 36 minutes, Harden fouled out, and his team lost by 39. The teams he is on sure seem to get blown out in elimination games a lot.

    James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets leaves the court after their 114-75 loss to the San Antonio Spurs Game Six of the NBA Western Conference Semi-Finals

    (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Game 5 vs the Heat Last Season

    Credit to Harden, for a few seasons, he didn’t have his playoff blow-ups. He was bad in a couple of games vs the Bucks in 2021 with the Nets. But he was also just coming back from an injury. So I left those games off because we don’t know how bad he was hurting. But even while limited by the hamstring in his first season with the Sixers, his performance was not good enough. In game 5 the Sixers lost by 29, and he scored just 14 points with 4 assists on 13 shots.

    James Harden talking to Doc Rivers

    (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

  • Game 6 vs the Heat in 2022 2nd Round

    Game 6 was even uglier for Harden. It made two straight 4th quarters without him scoring a point. In game 6, he took just 2 shots in the second half and hit none of them. He finished with 11 points on 9 shot attempts. You get James Harden thinking you are getting a guy who will keep shooting and put up buckets. The version of Harden they saw in the final two games vs the Heat, looked more like Ben Simmons. Too scared to drive or shoot.

    James Harden reacts on the court vs the Heat

    (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Game 2 vs the Celtics in 2023 2nd Round

    And now we come to the games from this past season. Harden was great in game 1. Without Embiid, he put the team on his back, scored 45, and hit the game-winning shot. And many thought he finally was healthy and ready to step up in the playoffs. He followed that up with a 12-point game on a night the Sixers lost by 21. He shot 2 of 14. He was getting blocked a ton on drives, and couldn’t hit a 3. It was bad, but at this point, many Sixers fans were just happy to have split the series.

    James Harden driving into the paint against the Celtics

    (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

  • Game 3 vs the Celtics

    He followed that up by scoring 16 points on 14 shots in game 3. Not as bad, but still not anywhere near good enough. The Sixers lost by 12, to fall behind 1-2 in the series. He did have 11 assists, which helps things a bit. But the Sixers needed someone besides Embiid to score in that game, and Harden was brought in to be that guy. They needed him to be so much better, but he could not give it to them in game 3. In game 4 he was great again. But like I have said so many times already if he was better in the games before game 4, would they have needed him to play hero to avoid going down 1-3 in game 4?

    James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers shoots the ball against the Boston

    (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Game 6 vs the Celtics

    At home, with a 3-2 lead, the Sixers came up really small in game 6. And James Harden is part of that. Joel Embiid struggled from the floor, but still eventually got his points. Harden? He got 13 points on 16 shot attempts. Along with everyone else, he was missing shot after shot in the 4th quarter. It was yet another playoff game he shot under .300. You will notice it is becoming a trend.

    James Harden #1 of the Philadelphia 76ers reacts against Malcolm Brogdon #13 of the Boston Celtics during the fourth quarter

    (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

  • Game 7 vs the Celtics

    Which brings us to game 7. When the Sixers got embarrassed and booted from the 2nd round again. 9 points by James Harden, on 11 shots. Another playoff game under .300. 5 turnovers. Oh, and yet another games where his team gets blown out in an elimination game. That is 8 times his team lost by double digits in an elimination game. 4 times by 20 or more. It is becoming a pattern. Then he did what he always does, tuck his tail and run to a different team. Great job Mr. “I am a System”.

  • Conclusion

    Has Harden had great playoff games? Yes. We saw two of them this postseason. But he has way too many awful playoff games for a supposed Superstar. Him and his teams have a now long history of coming up small when it matters. Yes, he ran into a lot of dynasty teams in his time with the Rockets. But he himself did not play well enough to deserve that excuse. And this year we saw what is typical of a Harden playoff experience. Looks amazing one night, and then kills you the next. Maybe it is for the best that he left.

Sign me up for the 97.5 The Fanatic email newsletter!

Become a Fanatic MVP to get the latest info on the Philly Sports landscape, plus access to exclusive content and member-only contests.

By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.