James Harden Calls Himself a Top-10 NBA Player During 2014 All-Star Break

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2014

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 16: James Harden #13 of the Western Conference All-Stars signs autographs during the 2014 NBA All-Star Game on February 16, 2014 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Tyler Kaufman/NBAE via Getty Images)
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NBA All-Star Weekend is a time to celebrate the league's premier players, enjoy some defense-less exhibition basketball, decompress, unwind and, in James Harden's case, reflect on past drama.

When asked about Kevin Durant saying Harden should have replaced Dwyane Wade in the top 10 of SI.com's September ranking of the league's best 100 players, the bearded wonder sided with his former teammate.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 16:  The Eastern Conference's Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat takes a shot as the Western Conference's Kevin Durant #35 of the Oklahoma City Thunder defends during 2014 NBA All-Star game at the Smoothie King Center on February
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"It is what it is," Harden said, via the Sun-Sentinel's Shandel Richardson. "[Durant] knows what he's talking about."

And so it begins. Again.

During a CineSport.com interview in September, Durant was asked about Harden's placement at No. 11 on SI.com's list, and he was not satisfied.

"I think you’re missing on James Harden," he said.

Asked who Harden should replace, Durant answered without hesitation.

"Dwyane Wade," he said pointedly.

Naturally Wade, who checked in at No. 8, took exception to Durant's comments. As a token of his displeasure, he took to Instagram with a response of his own:

Soon after, Harden himself was approached about the situation. Like Durant, he too made it clear he belonged in the top 10.

"For sure," Harden told CSN Houston. "For sure. Last year, I had a chance to prove it. Kind of broke out of my shell a little bit. Even though it was my first year [as a starter], I’ve got a lot more to prove. I’ve kind of always been the underdog, always been looked over, so it’s nothing new."

To Harden's credit, he never once singled out Wade as the player he should replace. To his further credit, he couldn't be coaxed into taking a jab at Wade over All-Star Weekend either.

"I don't even know who was on the list," Harden told reporters, via Richardson. "I don't really care about that list. I go out there and play basketball and do my best. I'll let you guys talk about that."

Wade is unlikely to take Harden's most recent comments as an outdated act of war. He was respectful in his answer and did what any other NBA player with a semblance of self-esteem would do: put confidence in himself.

As for the Durant-Wade business from September, that's over and done with. Bringing it to Harden's attention again, nearly five months later, makes little sense.

There will be no hastily scrawled message on a notepad or ferociously written memo on a diner napkin. After missing 15 of the Miami Heat's first 51 games, Wade might even be willing to cede his place in the top 10 to Harden.

Though that's unlikely, it doesn't matter. This time around, it's not about Wade or Durant.

The real news is that Harden (still) fancies himself a top-10 player. And knowing Harden, how much faith he has in himself and how well he still continues to play, that's really no surprise.