A ‘Beard’ now grows in Brooklyn

Harden blending in well with Nets' All-Stars

James Harden

When the Brooklyn Nets acquired All-Star guard James Harden from the Houston Rockets in a Jan. 14 trade, it sparked plenty of excitement among fans envisioning a big three of Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving lighting up scoreboards throughout the NBA. But it also raised a number of questions.

How will they decide who is the go-to guy in the closing minutes? How will Harden blend in with the other two alpha scorers? And what will his presence mean for an already defense-challenged team?

Well, nearly a month after the deal, the answers appear to be it varies, just fine and it depends on the opponent. The formula so far has been to get efficient offense from the three All-Stars and count on one to have a monster game. Opponents will have no answer for the Nets’ three-headed monster, so the defense needs to be only good enough to outscore the other side. Which has happened often.

As of early February, the Nets were 7-2 since the trade and Harden was being Harden, averaging 24.1 points and 12 assists with Brooklyn. Included in those totals were four triple-double efforts plus a 34-point, 12-assist, six-rebound game against the Bucks on Jan. 18 (his second game with the Nets) and a 31-point, 15-assist, eight-rebound effort against the Hawks on Jan. 27. All were wins.

So far unselfish play has been the calling card of the Nets’ big three and that is reflected on the scoreboard. The Nets and the man known as “The Beard” can be seen in action on national TV twice this week: On the road against the Los Angeles Clippers Sunday, Feb. 21, on ESPN; and at home versus the Dallas Mavericks Saturday, Feb. 27, on ABC.

Player Profile

Full name: James Edward Harden Jr.

Birth date: Aug. 26, 1989

Birthplace: Bellflower, Calif.

Height/weight: 6 feet, 5 inches/220 pounds

Teams: Oklahoma City Thunder (2009-12); Houston Rockets (2012-21); Brooklyn Nets (2021-present)

College: Arizona St.

Draft: Selected in the first round (third overall) by the Thunder in 2009

Position: Guard

No.: 13

Honors and achievements: NBA MVP (2018); eight-time NBA All-Star; six-time All-NBA First Team; three-time NBA scoring champion (2018-20); NBA assists leader (2017); NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2012); Pac-10 Player of the Year (2009); his No. 13 jersey was retired by Arizona St.

George Dickie

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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