James Harden Teases Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, Downplays Knicks-Nets Rivalry

Published 05/05/2021, 7:00 AM EDT
Apr 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; New York Knicks forward Julius Randle (30) dribbles the ball against Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) during the first quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports


New York basketball is thriving once again. In the last decade, the New York Knicks fell to become one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Nets completed their move from New Jersey to Brooklyn and have been on the come-up. They had a small stutter-step after the Kevin Garnett – Paul Pierce trade, but have now become one of the best teams in the league with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.

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James Harden takes aim at Knicks

With the re-emergence of New York basketball, the rivalry between the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets, the New Yorker magazine did a cover story celebrating the Nets and the Knicks. The cover features caricatures of Nets’ stars Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, along with Knicks stars RJ Barrett and Julius Randle. However, James Harden took a sly dig at the Knicks, cropping them out of the cover when he uploaded it to his Twitter.

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This omission could just be an innocent case of Harden wanting the focus to be on him and his teammates. But a few fans have speculated whether Harden is taking a shot at his neighbors across the river. The Knicks and the Nets have both had very good seasons, with both currently occupying the fourth and first seed, respectively. But the Knicks have surprisingly earned more plaudits. So this could be Harden wanting to focus the narrative toward them.

Knicks-Nets rivalry renews

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The reason the Knicks have been garnering high praise is because of the jump they made this year. Last season, the Nets had the seventh seed in the conference without Kevin Durant and Kyrie playing just a few games. And this year, they’ve become the best team in the East. Whereas, the Knicks had one of the worst records in the NBA, continuing their pattern of underperforming over the last few years.

Apr 5, 2021; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving (11) drives to the basket against New York Knicks forward Obi Toppin (1) and guard Derrick Rose (4) during the second quarter at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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This year, the Knicks have been sensational. Tom Thibodeau has transformed the Knicks into the best defensive team in the NBA. Julius Randle took a major leap and earned an All-Star nomination. Currently, the Knicks are the fourth seed and will be in the playoffs with a high seed for the first time in several years. So the atmosphere in New York is excellent, with both teams thriving in the league.

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Aaditya Krishnamurthy

1313 articles

Aaditya Krishnamurthy is an NBA & NFL journalist for EssentiallySports, before which he worked at BusinessWorld magazine. He has been a fan of Basketball for over 10 years now, since Shaquille O’Neal was a Phoenix Suns player. During his time at Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts, he started a sports magazine for the college called the Overtime Tribune and hosted the Overtime Tribune Podcast until he graduated.

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