If there was a needle, similar to the New York Times election needle, that was used to represent the likelihood of James Harden joining either the Sixers or the Nets, I'm really not sure where it would lean.
In fact, just a day ago, there were plenty of rumors to make me believe that the needle would stay in the middle, representing the "stays in Houston" case, considering the franchise has done everything in its power over the years to center the team around Harden, build a system around his play style, bring in stars to support him, and more. There were reports that said the Rockets saw a Harden trade as a "non-starter."
Then, he turned down a $50 million plus per year extension with the Rockets, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, and reportedly "made it clear to ownership that he's singularly focused on a trade to the Brooklyn Nets."
Not on Meek Mill's watch. The rapper and Philadelphia fan favorite, whose "Dreams and Nightmares" blares over the loudspeakers at many sporting events, is good pals with the Rockets' eight-time All-Star guard and is actively working to convince Harden that Philly is where he belongs (via NBA insiders Kelly Iko and David Aldridge).
The friends and mega stars of their respective industries have a long-standing friendship. In 2017, when Meek Mill went to jail for violating his parole following two arrests and chants of "Free Meek" rang throughout not only Philly but throughout the country, Harden was one of his ardent supporters.
Harden also kept in contact with Meek Mill throughout his prison stay, as the rapper told SI's Crossover TV that Harden called him three to four times every week for about an hour each time. When Harden caught flak for wearing what appeared to be a pro-police mask in July of 2020, Meek Mill was there to support him on Twitter.
"Y’all know damn well Jh don’t know what that mask meant because I don’t!" Meek wrote (via C. Vernon Coleman II of XXL Mag). "He donate millions in real life to our people! End of story."
So, if Daryl Morey, Doc Rivers and company weren't enough to steer Harden's "singular" attention from the Brooklyn Nets, will Philly native Meek Mill's allure do the trick? If so, they'll certainly have to incorporate more of his music library into games, though it would be a shame if they ditched what worked. Kyle Neubeck's awesome study of 76ers background music and the team's correlating performance hilariously finds that 50 Cent yields a lot of success.
This one would probably be a good starting point — warning, it's explicit.