James Harden’s time in Brooklyn was brief but the impact he had on his teammates was immense so when he left, things got dark.
Former Nets player Bruce Brown Jr. explained how there was much more of a fun vibe off the court when Harden was around. And no, that didn’t mean going to strip clubs – that was clarified.
“I think locker room-wise, it was cool, but we really didn’t do much together off the court,” Brown said. “But when James was there, obviously, it was more fun. He did a whole lot of events for us.
“When he left, the locker room was kind of quiet. Nobody really did much together. … James was a great teammate on and off the court. Definitely was one of the best teammates I’ve ever had.”
Harden’ hasty exit was a bit of a shock at the time because it was expected he, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving would become a formidable big three. But the trio only played a total of 16 games together.
The now 14-season veteran was in Brooklyn for a little over a year but his exit was the catalyst for a long list of issues the team would begin to face.
Brown says his trade had a big impact on the team off the court, as well as on the court.
“When he left [the team get-togethers off the court] kinda lacked,” Brown said. “There was only a few people hanging out with each other on the team. And then on the court, it was kinda tough. Our offense was basically just straight [Kevin Durant] and [Kyrie Irving] isos. Teams just loaded, as you’ve seen against the Celtics in [the first round of the 2022 NBA Playoffs].”
Irving and Durant both sensationally requested trades out of Brooklyn this season and by February’s deadline, they were both gone and the team was in disrepair.
They started the season on a losing streak too, which led to Steve Nash getting fired.
In February when he returned to play at Barclays Center for the first time, Harden seemed happy with his choices.
“But now, fast-forward to date, I don’t look like the crazy one,” Harden said. “I don’t look like the guy or the quitter or whatever the media want to call me. I knew what was going on and I just decided to … hey, I’m not built for this. I don’t want to deal with that. I want to play basketball and have fun and enjoy doing it. And fast-forward to today, they’ve got a whole new roster.”