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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Mike D. Sykes, II

The NBA’s stars coming to James Harden’s defense is a lesson we should all learn from

This is the online version of our daily newsletter, The Morning WinSubscribe to get irreverent and incisive sports stories, delivered to your mailbox every morning. Here’s Mike Sykes.

I’ll be the first person to tell you that James Harden bears some of the blame for his tiff with Daryl Morey. He made his bed and now he has to lie in it.

Harden is the one who chose to take a pay cut so the team could land a few more players that might help the 76ers get to the promised land. He’s the one who flirted with the Houston Rockets all season. He’s the one who opted into his contract in a situation he very clearly doesn’t want to be in anymore.

Both sides are at fault here. Did Morey lie to him? Probably. But if Harden plays better in the playoffs, he’s probably got the deal he wants right now.

With that said, it’s nice to see so many of Harden’s peers defending him over the last few days.

PJ Tucker dropped a post on Instagram indicating that he’s siding with Harden in the situation. His former Nets teammate Kyrie Irving even defended him in a response to Adrian Wojnarowski’s tweet about the Harden situation, arguing that the 76ers star shouldn’t be called “disgruntled.” Andre Iguodala argued the same thing on Gilbert Arenas’ podcast.

Whether Harden has some culpability in the situation doesn’t matter to them. These players are defending him anyway. These players are saying exactly what they should say. They should be defending him.

This is a lesson in solidarity from the NBA’s top class. It’s something I think all of us could learn from.

For example, just look at the NFL’s running back situation. The league’s best ball-carriers don’t feel like they’re being paid enough and it’s hard to argue with them.

The value they bring to the offensive side of the ball in the NFL is tremendous. Yet these backs are typically paid like the least valuable position on the field because of how replaceable they are. That’s not to say a good running back is easy to find, but it is way easier to stumble upon a good RB than a good quarterback.

But maybe if one of the NFL’s top stars like, say, Patrick Mahomes or Aaron Rodgers sat in on that Zoom call between the league’s top running backs then it’d have been taken a little more seriously. Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything in the immediate future, but it certainly would’ve at least sent a message to the top of the league that these players are sticking together. That’s going to matter come 2030 when the NFL’s CBA expires.

These players, across all their different sports, have to be there to help each other. Tucker, Iguodala and Irving know that anyone in the league could be in Harden’s situation.

Maybe the numbers aren’t as gaudy for everyone, but that’s not just what this is about. In its simplest form, this is just a player trying to work himself into the most favorable position possible. Every player should support that.

The only thing that could potentially change that is public pressure. The NBA’s stars are applying it. Good on them for it.

Quick hits: Mrs. Met got y’all acting weird online … Improving the USWNT … and more 

(Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Mrs. Met got the internet all steamy and lusty on a Wednesday. What a time to be alive. Mary Clarke has more.

— Our Mitchell Northam is floating out 5 potential replacements for USWNT’s head coaching position after Vlatko Andonovski resigned.

— Our Prince Grimes was in his bag with this headline. That’s a TLC bar in 2023. Wowwwwww.

— In news that will certainly be a shock to you, Deshaun Watson still looks terrible with the Browns. Cory Woodruff has more.

That’s all, folks. Be kind to one another today.

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