James Harden is in a good place right now, but the former NBA MVP was emotionally and physically drained from the previous two seasons.
Speaking to Yaron Weitzman of Fox Sports, Harden called the past two years "a low point" in his career.
"I've never really had to deal with something like that," he added. "My body, mentally, physically … It was a lot going on. I mean, basketball is everything to me."
One of Harden's friends told Yeitzman the 10-time All-Star was "broken" after the Philadelphia 76ers' playoff loss to the Miami Heat.
Harden was acquired by the Sixers in a trade with the Brooklyn Nets prior to the trade deadline. There was hope that pairing him with Joel Embiid would give Philadelphia a spark to advance past the second round of the postseason for the first time since reaching the NBA Finals during the 2000-01 season.
Instead, the loss to Miami became the latest in a long line of playoff disappointments for Harden. He only scored 11 points and took nine shots in a 99-90 loss in Game 6 that clinched the series for the Heat.
The previous two seasons were certainly a whirlwind for Harden. He began the 2020-21 campaign asking for a trade from the Houston Rockets, but it took them until three weeks into the regular season to deal him to the Nets in a four-team deal.
Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving were expected to be one of the most dynamic trios in the NBA. They were only able to play in 16 games together because of injuries and health and safety protocols.
A hamstring injury kept Harden out for three games in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks. He attempted to play through the issue, but he only averaged 14.3 points on 30.6 percent shooting in the final three games of the series for the Nets.
Things took a turn for the Nets last season, with Harden and Irving not seeing eye to eye on things. The 33-year-old ultimately wound up in Philadelphia, reuniting with Daryl Morey after their time together with the Rockets.
The 76ers re-signed Harden on a two-year, $68.6 million contract during the offseason.
Harden is still rounding into form after missing 14 games with a tendon strain in his right foot. He is averaging 22.1 points, 10.8 assists and 6.7 rebounds per game in 13 starts. The star point guard has posted double-doubles in each of his past three games.