WATCH: Shaquille O’Neal Resurfaces Epic Olympics Footage Of James Harden Embarrassing Himself On Defense

Published 07/24/2022, 7:45 AM EDT

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NBA superstar James Harden was one of the best scorers in the history of the league. The former MVP is a talented ISO player and players struggle to contain him 1 on 1. Also, Harden is smart in drawing his defenders into fouling him and earning his points from the free throw line.

Like a lot of superstars, he isn’t the most complete player who often struggled with the defensive side of the game. However, he has had his moments of brilliance on the defensive end too.


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Recently, Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O’Neal shared an old video of James Harden as an Instagram story. The video was taken during the 2012 London Olympics when team USA faced Nigeria. It was a blowout win for team USA as the game ended 156-73.

However, the video shared by Shaq shows one particular moment of the game when Harden got his ankles taken by a Nigerian player. To make things worse, the player then proceeded to sink the 3-pointer as well.


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In this game, team USA broke multiple Olympic records. They set the most points scored in a half with 78 points and then the most points scored in a game with 156.

The rise of James Harden

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected James Harden as the 3rd overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft. He was not always a superstar. In a team with young offensive superstars like Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, Harden had to take things slowly.

In his first season in the NBA, he didn’t start any game. However, he did play 76 games with an average of 22.9 minutes per game. ‘The Beard’ averaged 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game.


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Over the next two seasons with the Thunder, Harden slowly developed his scoring abilities and improved his FG%. In his third season, he averaged  19.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.7 assists per game. However, Harden only started a total of 7 games in his first three years. And he won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award that year. Then he made the USA team for the London Olympics and came back with the gold medal.


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Unable to tie Harden to an extension, the OKC Thunder traded him to the Houston Rockets. This move sped up the development of James Harden. In his first season with the Rockets, Harden played and started 78 games and averaged 25 points per game.

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In 2017, Harden became the NBA assists leader as he averaged 11.2 assists per game in 81 games. James Harden dominated the NBA in the next 3 seasons as he won the scoring title for the 3 consecutive years. He was toying with his defenders.

Harden also won the NBA MVP award in 2018. In 2019, he averaged a mindboggling 36.1 points per game in 78 games. However, Harden is yet to win an NBA title. Even though he is not his MVP self anymore, he can still help any team.


Written by:

Bagavathi Eswaran


One take at a time

Bagavathi Eswaran is an NBA writer at EssentiallySports. He has been playing the game of basketball for more than 20 years now and has also been following the NBA for more than 10 years. After not being able to go pro, this former college player decided to join the IT industry.
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Edited by:

Arunaditya Aima