Nets' James Harden Has Reportedly Been a 'Calming Influence' on Kyrie Irving

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, left, gets a pat on the head from guard James Harden during a timeout in the first half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden has reportedly been a "calming influence" on teammate Kyrie Irving since his arrival from the Houston Rockets in a January blockbuster trade.

Mike Mazzeo of Forbes reported Wednesday the Nets' backcourt tandem has "gotten along very well" as Harden builds a new reputation in Brooklyn.

"In Houston, James would complain about everything to the team CEO [Tad Brown]. He's gotten high-level guys traded. The Rockets gave him too much control," an NBA source told Mazzeo. "But in Brooklyn, he's not making it about himself. He's been very humble and gracious, making plays for others. And he's done a phenomenal job keeping himself in check."

It wasn't instant success for the Nets following the acquisition of Harden. The team went through some growing pains, especially at the defensive end of the floor, but they finally started to provide a glimpse of their upside by winning 10 of their last 11 games before the All-Star break.

They found most of that success without Kevin Durant, who last played Feb. 13 because of a hamstring injury that prevented him from playing in Sunday's All-Star Game, where he served as a team captain.

Brooklyn can now afford to play it safe with Durant, who was ruled out through the All-Star break but doesn't have a confirmed return date. It ranks second in the Eastern Conference with a 24-13 record and hasn't even showcased its true peak.

"The ultimate goal is to compete for a championship and win a championship," Harden said, per Mazzeo. "That's one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Brooklyn. I think everybody in this organization feels the same way."

Harden's relationship with Irving will be crucial as the playoffs draw closer.

The 28-year-old point guard showed his value to a title-level team while helping LeBron James guide the Cleveland Cavaliers to the 2016 NBA championship, but his tenure in Cleveland ended on a sour note and his two seasons with the Boston Celtics didn't live up to expectations.

So having Harden, who's a willing distributor who can let Irving fill the role of a pure scorer on most nights while also providing that calming influence, is an underrated asset in the Nets' title push.

Brooklyn, which returns from the All-Star break Thursday night against the Celtics, still has work to do before the postseason rolls around, but the star-studded squad is clearly trending in the right direction.