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How do you react to being underestimated like that? Like after last year, averaging whatever crazy numbers those were [29.0 points, 7.1 assists, 6.5 rebounds, becoming only the fourth NBA player in history to average at least 29 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds in a single season; Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and Le Bron James are the others], and not making first, second or third team all–NBA. And I’m not going to dig too deep about why I was left off it. I had Joey Dorsey and Tarik Black as my centers, and we finished second in the West. Yeah, for sure they think the referees are helping me out. That’s the same contact as when you’re going to the basket and you get bumped in the air. I’m just using my brain and my IQ and finding different ways to be crafty and get to the basket and score the basketball. For example, I signed my Adidas deal in August [of 2015], and wasn’t able wear Adidas because I was with Nike until like October 1. But every time I went out and I had Nikes on: ‘Oh my God, James Harden is wearing Nike, he just signed a deal with Adidas.’ I can’t wear Adidas until October 1.
Do you think this hurts your perception in some sense, because people think the refs give you too many calls? There was just a lot of nonsense, just saying my name for no reason. Do you have any advice for people dealing with new challenges and responsibilities in a work environment, or anywhere else? You make a mistake, ok, don’t compound one mistake with two mistakes.
You’re not going to make me play faster than I want to play. I need to get to point A, I’m going to get to point A when I want to get point A.
Even as a Mc Donald’s All-American, you had the Blake Giffins, you had the Derek Roses, the Michel Beasleys, the O. We were just hanging out, we’re good friends, not even talking about basketball. That’s the perception most people have — he goes to the basket looking for fouls. I go to the basket with my arms out, and if you foul me, then you foul me.
I feel like it’s another opportunity for me to learn something new. You have the ball in your hands 90 something percent of the game. These last few years, he was in some messed up situations as well. After reaching the Western Conference finals in 2015, you guys got off to a dismal start last season.
You’ve got positive people that encourage you, that are all about the same things.
What did you learn from last year’s bad experience? That is me more focused, because of what’s surrounding me.
K., now you’re open, shoot the ball now.’ But it makes the game fun, when you have someone on your shoulders talking to you. The coach told me, honestly, I don’t care how many times you turn the ball over. From the coaching change to inexperience, to guys not on the same page, to guys having different agendas.
So of course in the beginning, turnovers are going to be high.
What was your reaction this summer when you heard that your former Oklahoma City Thunder teammate, Kevin Durant, signed with Golden State? He had come to Arizona to hang out with me for a few days. But you can’t judge guys or get mad at guys if they want to join a really, really good team. But Stephen Curry of Golden State, who won the title that year, won MVP. Was there a moment you realized you had a knack for drawing fouls? They taught you to chin the rim: going to the rim, but the ball up, chin it, so you can finish. I’m just going to the basket, looking to finish, and if you reach, it’s a foul.