Kevin Durant and James Harden are very familiar with one another. The two spent three seasons together as members of the Oklahoma City Thunder until Harden along with Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston. In exchange for Kevin Martin and Jeremy Lamb, two first-round picks and a second-round pick. They even won a gold medal together as members of Team USA Basketball in 2012 in the London Olympics.
Over the past couple of seasons, the two former teammates current teams have been the obstacle in the pursuit of an NBA title. The Rockets are facing the Golden State Warriors and after game one of their Western Conference Semi-Finals series, all the headlines have been centered around Harden’s style of play and the officiating.
Reigning MVP James Harden has been criticized and accused of “cheating the game” by trying to game the system sort of speak.
Harden’s former teammate Kevin Durant does not seem to agree with that assessment and narrative.
“He’s always been clever at getting into the paint and using his strength to get guys off,” Durant said to reporters on Tuesday. “It’s, more so than anything, putting pressure on the defense. I think that’s what he’s always been doing.”
Durant was also asked if Harden’s style of play was an issue for the game, and does it give him an edge?
Durant replied, “No, I wouldn’t say that he has an advantage,” Durant said. “I think everyone, once they get into the lane, they use little tricks to try and get they shots off. I don’t think he’s any different. He may bump guys off going to the rim, but everybody does that. So, I wouldn’t say that he’s found a way to cheat the rules, I wouldn’t say that. It’s just that he has his style of play and it might not be what everybody likes to see, but it’s been effective and I don’t think he’s been cheating the game.
“I think he plays inside the game, plays within the rules of the game. I mean s**t happens. Referees aren’t going to be perfect all game, just like players aren’t. So I think, more so than just the talk of the officiating, it should be about how great all these players are on the court, how they uniquely bring something different to the table.”
"I wouldn't say that he's found a way to … cheat the rules. He has his style of play."
KD says Harden has always been "clever" at putting pressure on the defense. pic.twitter.com/KoXvaqfSuj
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 30, 2019