While watching the Houston Rockets and the Oklahoma City Thunder do battle on Wednesday night, watching James Harden wear the red and white No. 13 jersey, I was reminded of a song my mama used to play on the big house speakers when I was younger.
The sweetest woman in the world
Can be the meanest woman in the world
If you make her that way, you keep on hurting her
She keeps being quiet
She might be holding something inside
That really really hurt you one day
Those lyrics are by a R&B group called The Persuaders, a fitting name really. Four moustache and afro wearing gentlemen from New York, penned "A Thin Line Between Love and Hate" and had a No. 1 hit. If you haven't heard the song, its a man talking about a woman. A neglected and mistreated one, specifically. The man kept treating the woman poorly, never suspecting that she'd retaliate in a malicious fashion.
You could say that James Harden was neglected by the Thunder brass. Deciding to give big money to players like Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka instead of the reigning sixth man of the year. Instead of giving the maximum effort (dollars) to Harden when contract negotiations were taking place could be seen as mistreatment. (Actually, the rush job of "sign this now, you've got one hour or we're moving forward with a trade" by Sam Presti is the bigger form of mistreatment, but I digress.) Things probably could've been managed better you could say.
Yes, the Thunder soundly defeated the Rockets 120-98, and OKC put Houston through the ringer. With intense on-ball pressure, a boatload of blocks, and precise shooting all night, the division champs put this one in the bag early. But I'll admit it...I'm not over it. Damn that beard still looks dope. That lefty stroke from three-point range is oh, so beautiful. Those herky-jerky moves have an affect on me, opposing defenders and referees alike. They're mesmerizing. Seeing Harden make passes to....Omer Asik? Jeremy Lin? Patrick Patterson? Those were supposed to go to Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka. How dare you, you Benedict Arnold! Good grief.
I don't really mean those words about Harden, but I'm just still bitter. Not at him, moreso at the situation that played out in front of us last month. What's truly scary is that, like the song says, he's really going to hurt us one day. It might be in a first-round matchup in an upcoming playoffs series. Or maybe its in a matchup where only the crafty skills of Harden could help OKC overcome its obstacle. Who knows?
However, it was good to see OKC take it to Houston and not be caught up in the moment. KD said it best with his post-game quote on his former teammate:
"It was crazy. Seeing him before the game, in chapel, in a different uniform, it was a little different. But we moved on past it man, happy to see him, glad he's doing well out there in Houston. But we wanted this win bad for all those days in practice that him, Daequan and Eric Maynor beat the first group, I wanted this game real bad. It was a good win. Good to see him and good luck to him the rest of the way." -- Kevin Durant on James Harden
Maybe the Thunder will have to beat the Rockets 5, 10, 20 more times for me to get over it. To see Harden as just 'another guy.' When that day comes, maybe I'll write another lengthy and verbose article professing why I feel that way, or maybe I'll just let the feeling float in the wind...like a fart.
I hate that freaking beard, you should shave it.
Long live the beard, I miss you No. 13.