As of a few weeks ago, James Harden was probably one of my favorite players in the NBA. He is a former lottery pick that has been over-shadowed on an Oklahoma City squad that has big names All-Stars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, yet he doesn’t seem to have a chip on his shoulder about it. He is constantly hustling, is the first guy to dive for a loose ball, and is never afraid to take the winning shot, even though he is only the sixth man (pay attention LEBRON!). He also rocks a giant beard and hipster-ish mohawk. What’s not to like about this guy?
Simple. Last week while taking out the old man Spurs on the way to the NBA Finals, Harden, like he does, hit a big shot. However, he followed it by doing this:
(It should also be noted that apparently Harden has sent some gang-related tweets in the past year. Then again, I say dumb shit I don’t mean on twitter all the time.)
If that is indeed the case, FUCK HIM IN HIS BEARD, FACE, AND ASS. C’mon James! You are a role model to kids in urban areas all over this country. Kids that are battling their consciences daily in these communities see a rich, successful NBA player proudly displaying these bullshit signs and what do you think that does? Gives these kids more false hope that gangbanging can lead to success, or at least is “cool”.
Now, there is the second option: that Harden isn’t, in fact, a member of the gang. In a Yardbarker post from last week, (no, not ESPN, more on that later), it gets pointed out that super ghetto rapper and apparent gang member “Slim Thug” called out Harden as a phony and tweeted, “go yo rich ass home and practice!” So, maybe he is the dorky hipster we all think, and just knows the sign and was doing it as a joke. Well fuck that too!
Most of those kids watching won’t know the difference. Even though Charles Barkley famously has acknowledged that NBA players don’t need to be role models, many of them automatically are whether they like it or not, especially a player like Harden that has been in the media’s eye a copious amount lately. Honestly, I don’t know if he is a Blood or not (most likely not), but with any luck, this act will get James Harden shot in a drive by in the near future to show these kids what really happens to gang members. Sorry if this all seems harsh, but as an adult (I know, weird right?) that has an occupation that works with kids in a heavily infested gang area, this absolutely infuriates me. I take all gang involvement in my line of work very seriously, and have taken numerous courses on gang awareness, influence, and recruiting over the past several years. I don't claim to be an expert, but I've learned the basics. Enough to know gangs are a disease that not only hold kids back from being truly successful in life, but also gets them injured or even killed. I want no part of these jackals who promise a glorious life that mainly leads to poverty, prison and death. I've even tried to stop listening to rappers who openly glorify it in their current lyrics. Fuck those bitches, too.
It is well known that David Stern gets his way with EVERYTHING in the NBA (and don't call him out on it if you want to keep your personal life in the clear). Formers referees have said they were told to coerce certain aspects of certain games in certain directions, all the time usually leading to a major market or “top story team” advancing in the playoffs. The Cavaliers and Hornets getting the number one pick in the lottery draft over the past two seasons has also been pretty peculiar, so why would anybody put it past Stern to make sure one of the golden boys of his golden franchise gets off without so much as a slap on the wrist or a “stern” talking to? (see what I did there?). Keep in mind, the NBA is very familiar with doling out fines for gang-related behavior. In 2008, NBA All-Star and former stabbee Paul Pierce was fined $25K for throwing this up at Hawk’s Center Al Horford:
As much as I want the OKC Thunder to roll over the Miami Heat and wipe that smug grin off of Lebron’s face, there is a part of me that wants no success for a guy that promotes anything gang related in a positive light, whether jokingly or not. I might be over-reacting, but there should at least be a discussion about this going on in the media, if only to let people know that this shit might be going on. Five years ago I very well may have shrugged my shoulders at this and kept cheering for Harden like nothing happened. Not now. Not after I’ve seen 13 & 14 year old kids who work hard and care about their future, suddenly transform over night because of promises from gangs that don’t give a flying fuck about their lives. I just wish it didn’t take me this long to find that out.
If I’m wrong and there is an honest explanation for Harden’s actions, I’ll be the first to admit my reaction was uncalled for, but as of now, I can’t think of a single scenario that could explain his piece of crap immaturity.
Follow me on twitter if you don't believe in kids getting shot. @TheScizz