James Harden On All-Star Weekend In LA, Harden Vol. 2, And More!

James Harden On All-Star Weekend In LA, Harden Vol. 2, And More!

 

James Harden is set to participate in his sixth straight All-Star Game later this month, but this one is special for the MVP candidate. It’s an opportunity for Harden to come full circle as the league’s best players will battle it out in his hometown of Los Angeles, the same place where he began to learn the game that he has since mastered.

“It’s exciting for me, just because everyone gets to come see how beautiful LA is,” Harden said. “That’s where I was raised. That’s where I became a man. That’s where I went through struggles. That’s where I found myself. All those memories are going to come back. It’s going to be a good time.”

He’s the face of the franchise in Houston now and one of the best players in the world, but Harden has never forgotten the place that helped make him into the man he is today. He still reps his city, so much so that one of the first Harden Vol. 2 colorways has been dubbed the ‘California Dreamin’ colorway.

James Harden 2

“The LA colorway is inspiring to me, because that’s home,” Harden said. “When people look at LA, they just see the palm trees and the nice weather, but that’s the place that raised me. There were tough times, but if you look at the city, it’s beautiful, so I wanted to do a colorway that shines and opens people’s eyes.”

The offensive mastermind gave us some details about the Harden Vol. 2, playing with Chris Paul, and his love of bowling. Check out our Q&A with The Beard.

Q: You had your best season yet last year with career highs in points, rebounds, and assists. What was last season like and how are you trying to top it this year?

A: “Last season was probably the most exciting season I’ve had in a long time on and off the court. I was focused a lot more, and then with all the changes we had with bringing in a new coaching staff and some new key players… It meshed really well. We all had the same goal and it was exciting. We all wanted to see each other be great, and succeed, and that was the reason for it. Obviously Mike D’Antoni  and his system helped me, but I had to go out there and perform. My focus level was at an all-time high.”

Q: How have you kept that level of focus this year?

A: “Same thing. Just knowing what I was successful at last year and knowing what I was not-so-great at last year and just trying to get better at both those things. Being better defensively, offensively, limiting my turnovers, taking better shots, and making better passes. There’s always room for improvement. You study on it, you work on it, and you go out there and try to execute it.”

Q: What’s playing with Chris Paul been like? Now you have two point guards who can score and distribute.

A: “It’s tough for defenses when you have both me and Chris on the same team. Both of us are willing passers and elite scorers. We’re just always in attack mode. We’re coming at you for 48 minutes and you’ve got to be on your heels. We keep the defense on their heels the entire game and when you make a mistake against us, you’re going to pay for it.”

Q: Part of what makes you so deadly is your ability to change direction and stop on a dime. How do you develop that aspect of your game and how do you utilize it on the court?

A: “Being able to change directions is something I’ve been working on ever since I was younger. Doing ladder drills, running on the track, and doing a lot of footwork drills has helped me get to where I am today. I’m able to stop and change directions when I need to. I’m fast when I need to be. You don’t want to be fast at all times, because you can’t control the game. I use my speed when I need to and use my change of direction when I need to, because it allows me to stay a step ahead of the defender.”

Q: What do you love about the game? Do you remember a moment when it clicked and you knew this is what you wanted to do for the rest of your life?

A: “That defining moment was when I was in middle school. In eighth grade, we went to a championship and just that feeling that basketball gave me – the crowd, the excitement, the adrenaline. I wanted that more often. I just kept at it. I wasn’t good at all. But the way it made me feel, I knew that there could be something special, so I worked every single day and continued to have a goal and stay focused on what I wanted to do.”

Q: What do you want them to say about James Harden 30 years from now?

A: “That James Harden was one of the best players to ever touch a basketball. Thirty years from now, when people are talking about me, I want them to say he’s a champion, he’s a winner, he was creative, he did it his way. There’s nobody that ever played like him.”

Q: What advice would you give to kids who want to be like you?

A: “The advice I would give to kids is to try and be better than me. Not necessarily as an athlete, but whatever they are passionate about, whatever they love, and whatever they have a goal and a vision of doing. Do it and don’t let anybody stop you. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t be that person. There’s going to be a lot of negativity that comes your way, but stay away from it and focus on what your goals are.”

Q: What athletes did you look up to as a kid? Who did you try to model your game after?

A: “As a kid I looked up to Kobe Bryant, but even then I didn’t model my game after him. It’s just two totally different games. But the thing I could take away from him was that he was passionate. He didn’t care what people said about him. He was just a winner. He did whatever it took to win games, to win championships and that’s why he’s a living legend.”

Q: Let’s talk kicks. Harden Vol. 2 is your second signature shoe with adidas. How do you work with them to create your shoes?

James Harden 1

A: “I know what makes me feel good and what makes me feel comfortable to go out there and perform at the highest level that I can. Obviously the shoe has to fit my foot very well, it needs to have traction to be able to change directions when I need to, it has to be light, and comfortable enough to wear that I feel comfortable out there on the court.

And then the colorways. Obviously you look good, you play good. It doesn’t matter what the colorways are, just as long as their fresh.”

Q: Was there anything specifically from the Harden 1 that you wanted to keep in the Harden 2?

A: “I think boost cushioning was the main thing, just because it’s comfortable and then it gives me an extra edge. Obviously traction is important – no matter what shoe I play in, I need traction. The Harden Vol. 1 was the beginning, but Harden Vol. 2 needed to be higher than that. We wanted to create an entirely different wave, but make sure the boost and the traction were still in Vol. 2. And I also worked with adidas to try and make the shoe lighter. The lighter you play, the more athletic you feel and the more bounce you have.”

Q: You said you dress for how you feel. Can you describe your sense of style?

A: “I just dress for the occasion. I don’t really follow trends or what people are wearing now. It’s just how I feel. Maybe it’s baggy clothes today, maybe it’s tighter clothes tomorrow. It’s just how I feel and what makes me comfortable. As long as it gives me that confidence, I wear it.”

Q: What’s your favorite adidas shoe of all time besides your own?

A: “I think my favorite adidas shoe, besides my own, would probably be the Crazy 8. I was a big Kobe fan, and when those came out they were just comfortable. I rocked those back when I was on my AAU team. Definitely a favorite of mine.”

Q: What does being on the Eastbay cover mean to you? Do you have any memories of Eastbay growing up?

Dwight Howard : Houston Bound

Dwight Howard : Houston Bound

words // Brandon Richard

After two seasons of uncertainty and indecisiveness, the “Dwightmare” is finally over. In a tweet sent out Friday night, Dwight Howard announced that he will resume his playing career with the Houston Rockets next season.

Dwight Howard Houston Rockets

image via Dwight Howard’s Twitter account.

The surprising decision to leave the Los Angeles Lakers comes after a disappointing season in which the Lakers barely found a way into the playoffs and were swept in the first round by the eventual Western Conference Champion San Antonio Spurs. Despite being hampered by back and shoulder injuries all season, Howard led the league in rebounding for the fifth time and started for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game.

According to reports, Howard will sign a 4-year deal worth approximately $88 million dollars and an opt-out clause in the fourth season. Contracts cannot officially be signed until July 10.

Howard’s decision has often been compared to LeBron James’ decision in 2010, when the now four-time MVP announced he’d be taking his talents to South Beach. While there may be some similarities, Howard’s divorce from the Orlando Magic (and now the Los Angeles Lakers) has been a bit more “messy.” In March of 2012, Howard waived his Early Termination Option (ETO) to remain with the Orlando Magic after demanding a trade to the New Jersey Nets earlier in the season. Things took a turn for the worse in April when coach Stan Van Gundy awkwardly revealed that Howard had asked for him to be replaced. About a week later, Howard was diagnosed with a herniated disk, ending his season and Magic career.

When the firing of Van Gundy and a brand new General Manager for the Magic did little to repair the relationship with Howard, he was traded to the Lakers in a 4-team blockbuster last August. The change of scenery didn’t do much for Howard’s happiness — he reportedly clashed with Kobe Bryant all season long and was never healthy enough to perform at his usual level. Howard was harshly criticized by national media for getting himself ejected in his final game as a Laker.

With the signing, the upstart Houston Rockets immediately put themselves in a position to contend for an NBA Championship. Led by All-Star guard James Harden, the Rockets dropped a closely contested first round playoff series against the Oklahoma City back in May. Harden and forward Chandler Parsons were instrumental in recruiting Howard to Houston, keeping in close communication with him for several months. The Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors were also in pursuit of Howard this summer.

What was all the fuss about? Howard is a 7-time NBA All-Star and 3-time Defensive Player of the Year. He also has five rebounding titles, led the league in shot blocking twice and made a trip to the NBA Finals with the Magic in 2009.

So, after landing the biggest free agent of the summer, do you think the Houston Rockets now have enough to win the West and play for an NBA Championship next June? Let us know what you think about the Dwight Howard pickup below.

Dwight Howard & James Harden

image via James Harden’s Instagram account.

adidas Game Time T-Shirt – Jeremy Lin

adidas Game Time T-Shirt – Jeremy Lin

words // Brandon Richard

In a move that surprised a lot of fans, the New York Knicks opted not to match the three-year offer sheet Jeremy Lin signed with the Houston Rockets back in July, meaning the point guard who stirred up “Linsanity” last season has returned to the team that waived him less than a year ago. Rockets fans from around the world are fully embracing Lin’s second act in Texas, hoping that he can bring some of the same magic to Houston that he brought to Madison Square Garden earlier this year.

If you’re looking to celebrate the new era of “Linsanity” in style, adidas has created this new Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets Game Time T-Shirt. Made with 100% cotton, this short-sleeve tee displays a large Houston Rockets logo on the front, while the back displays Lin’s number and last name written in Mandarin.

The adidas Game Time T-Shirt is also available in other brand new styles, including Dwight Howard Lakers, Andrew Bynum Sixers and Andre Iguodala Nuggets. Shop them all here today.

Available: adidas Game Time T-Shirt – Jeremy Lin

adidas Game Time T-Shirt - Jeremy Lin Houston Rockets

NBA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Kyle Lowry

NBA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Kyle Lowry

words // Brandon Richard

When thinking of candidates for NBA Player of the Week, Kyle Lowry’s name doesn’t immediately come to mind, but the Houston Rockets point guard has made the most of the opportunity given to him due to Aaron Brooks’ departure. Seemingly out of the playoff discussion in recent weeks, the Rockets are now making a push to climb into contention, and Lowry’s play has been the main reason for their ascension. He led Houston to 4-0 in games played last week, tying them with the Lakers for the league’s current longest streak. So, as unlikely as it may seem, Kyle Lowry is this week’s NBA Player of the Week.

Lowry’s numbers were impressive across the board last week. He averaged 19.3 points, while also contributing 7.5 assists and 7.3 rebounds per game. His best performance came Sunday against the Utah Jazz, when he recorded 28 point, 11 rebound and 10 assist triple-double in a 110-108 victory. He has posted double-figure scoring totals in 12-straight games, which marks a career high.

With Lowry coming up big, can the Rockets overtake Memphis for the eighth seed in the West?

NBA: Player of the Week - Kyle Lowry

NBA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Kevin Martin

NBA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Kevin Martin

words_Brandon Richard

Upstaging a huge week for Orlando’s Dwight Howard was Kevin Martin of the Houston Rockets, who was sensational during the team’s undefeated week. The underrated shooting guard lit up the scoreboard to the tune of 27.3 points per game, also averaging 4.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and two steals in a 4-0 week for the Rockets. With these numbers and the Rockets making a playoff push because of them, Kevin Martin is the Eastbay NBA Player of the Week.

Martin’s best performance came when Houston played their toughest opponent of the week: Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets. Lacing up his Jordan shoes, Martin dropped 33 points to help the Rockets overcome a 16-point second-half deficit. He also added five rebounds, four steals and knocked down key free throws down the stretch that sealed the game for Houston.

Kevin Martin is in the midst of what would be his fifth-straight 20-plus-point scoring season. Can his recent explosion help the Rockets land a spot in the playoffs?

NBA: Eastbay Player of the Week – Kevin Martin

Kevin Martin shoots a running jumper in the Air Jordan 2010 Team.