Report: Several 76ers players had issue with James Harden enjoying Miami nightlife before game

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A recent report indicates that former Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doc Rivers exposed Sixers players’ issues with star guard James Harden after he went to enjoy the Miami nightlife prior to a game against the Heat back in March.

“For a team with championship aspirations, it was a good moment to refocus,” Ramona Shelburne wrote. “Especially with the next game being a rematch in Miami two days later.

“But Harden didn’t travel with the team to Miami, sources said. He traveled separately, with permission from the front office, to enjoy the nightlife. This is not uncommon in the NBA, or for Harden, but it didn’t sit well with Rivers and several players on the team, sources said.

“Days later, Rivers brought it up in a team meeting, sources said, specifically mentioning several of the players who expressed concerns about Harden’s actions.

“The whole episode was ‘uncomfortable,’ one team source said. Even if they agreed with the substance of Rivers’ message to Harden, and the idea of holding him accountable, it was awkward for the players who were named.”

Harden, 34, was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft after a two-season stint at Arizona State University. He averaged 17-plus points, three-plus assists and five-plus rebounds in each of his two seasons as a Sun Devil.

In his second and final season at Arizona State, Harden led the team to a 25-10 record and NCAA Tournament appearance. Arizona State beat Temple University in the first round of the tournament before losing to Syracuse University in the second round. Harden converted just two of his 10 field-goal attempts in the loss.

The 6-foot-5 guard has played for four teams — the Oklahoma City Thunder, Houston Rockets, Brooklyn Nets and 76ers — across his 14 seasons in the NBA. He averaged 21.0 points, 6.1 rebounds, and a league-high 10.7 assists per game in 58 appearances with Philadelphia during the 2022-23 regular season (all starts). Interestingly, though, those numbers weren’t good enough for Harden to earn an All-Star nod.

Unfortunately for Sixers fans, Harden didn’t carry over his excellent play from the 2022-23 regular season into the 2023 postseason. His playoff numbers fell a bit compared to the regular season, as he averaged 20.3 points and 8.3 assists per game while shooting just 39.3 percent from the field in 11 playoff games.

Harden’s worst series of the 2023 postseason came against the Nets in the first round. The Sixers swept the Nets in four games, but Harden really struggled to score the ball efficiently from the field. He converted just 34.3 percent of his field-goal attempts on the series and averaged a mere 17.3 points per game.

At this juncture, it seems as if Harden and the Sixers would be better off heading their separate ways. After all, the Harden experiment in Philadelphia hasn’t panned out, considering the Sixers have been eliminated in the second round of the playoffs in each of Harden’s two seasons with the team.

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Jesse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA.