Russell Westbrook announced something of a warning to the rest of the NBA regarding his reunion with James Harden.
“It’s going to be scary, that’s all I can tell you,” Westbrook said during Houston Rockets media day Friday. “It’s going to be scary — not for us.”
Seven years have passed since Westbrook and Harden last played together with the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2012 NBA Finals. Harden and Westbrook, who have been friends since their childhoods in Los Angeles, have developed into perennial All-Star guards, and both have won an NBA MVP award.
But neither superstar has made it back to the NBA Finals since the Thunder’s 2012 loss to the Miami Heat.
They pushed to reunite with the Rockets, who traded Chris Paul and a package of first-round picks to acquire Westbrook from the Thunder, in large part due to their desire to finally win a championship.
“We’ve accomplished a lot of individual accolades,” said Harden, who led the league in scoring the past two seasons after Westbrook did so during his 2016-17 MVP season. “Now it’s time to accomplish something together that we haven’t done before.”
Some questioned the pairing of two of the league’s most ball-dominant players, as Harden has elevated from a Sixth Man of the Year to perennial MVP candidate since he last played with Westbrook. Harden accepted that they would have to “sort it out” regarding ball distribution and how to complement each other offensively, but it’s not a concern for him because of their friendship and mutual desire to win.
“If Russ got it going and Russ is having one of those games that we’ve all seen before, guess what I’m going to do: sit back and watch the show, and vice versa,” Harden said. “It’s just a part of basketball. So you can’t sit up here and say, ‘Oh, Russ is going to have the ball for the first half and I’m going to have the ball the second half.’ No, things happen through the course of the game that you just flow with and go with.
“All of us in this locker room and this front office has one goal, and that’s to win it. However that happens, it’s going to happen, and we’re just going to figure it out.”
“James Harden is, like, the best half-court player I’ve ever seen, honestly,” Morey said. “And then Russell is maybe the best transition player, one of the best of all time, as well. If you put those things together, which I think we have a chance to do, now you’ve got something really special. We’ll see how it all works out, but I think it could be really special.”