How did James Harden’s Mother Cost an NBA Player $50,000

Published 11/13/2021, 9:06 AM EST
SANTA MONICA, CA – JUNE 25: James Harden (L) and Monja Willis speak onstage at the 2018 NBA Awards at Barkar Hangar on June 25, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for Turner Sports)


It has rightly been said that behind every successful man, there is a woman. And in most cases, it is a man’s mother who is his backbone and rock in his life pursuits. At least, that is what James Harden feels about his mother.

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Therefore, in his 2017-18 season MVP speech, Harden brought on his mother to the stage and described her like that. Just like her son’s teammate Kevin Durant’s mother attends games to support her son, Monja Willis attended a game to support her son.

However, this game differed from other games. Because Monja decided she is going to involve herself in the trash-talking that only players indulge in on the court. Somehow, this ended up costing a player big time.

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The time James Harden’s mother cost Matt Barnes $50,000

James Harden’s mother got into an altercation with LA Clippers’ small forward Matt Barnes during the 2015 playoffs. In the second round of the playoffs, the Rockets and Clippers met, and things became heated between Barnes and Monja Willis.

While someone was shooting a free-throw, Willis yelled, “Take your f**got a** back to LA” to Barnes, who was defending Harden. Once Barnes heard Harden’s mom, he responded by saying, “S*ck my di** bi**h.”

Nov 8, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) reacts to a call against his team during the first half of an NBA game against the Chicago Bulls at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

DeAndre Jordan of the Clippers told Barnes in the locker room that Harden’s mother was the woman at whom he yelled the insults. Barnes approached Willis near the team buses after the game and apologized to her. After losing his mother, the NBA bad boy vowed to never insult another mother.

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When the series returned to Los Angeles, Harden’s mother didn’t accept Barnes’ apology until the second time they spoke. The two exchanged handshakes, and Harden seemed unfazed about Barnes. Matt Barnes’ actions toward James Harden’s mother were discovered by the NBA, and he was fined a large sum of money.

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What did James Harden do to get suspended?

In the same year as Barnes was fined for yelling the aforementioned profanity, Harden only faced a single-game suspension for kicking LeBron James. Yes, you read that correctly, while shouting yields a $50,000 fine, a physical altercation on the floor only got a single game suspension. So the league seems to have an extremely arbitrary approach towards players’ conduct on the floor.

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Chaitanya Dadhwal

372 articles

Chaitanya Dadhwal is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. Even though his journalism is driven by his desire to understand both sides of an argument and give a neutral perspective, he is biased towards Houston Rockets and Arsenal, and he has shown exactly how loyal he can be through tough times. Currently a Law student at Jindal Global Law School, he aims to have his own sports management firm one day and enjoys rap music during his time off.

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