Word on the street is the NBA is targeting a July return with Orlando emerging as the likely host site for the remainder of the league’s 2019-20 regular-season slate and subsequent postseason. Like everyone else, James Harden is anxious to get back on the hardwood, though the Rockets guard still has certain reservations about the NBA’s proposed return amid COVID-19, cautioning the league not to make a decision in haste.
“There are so many things that have to be figured out,” the one-time MVP explained Wednesday while appearing on CNBC. “I want it be safe.” Harden isn’t opposed to playing in a “bubble” environment at a singular location without fans, though the eight-time All-Star would prefer the virus calm down “all the way to a minimum” before anyone returns to the court.
While some including Shaquille O’Neal think the league should call off the remainder of its 2019-20 schedule, Harden doesn’t share in that belief. “I want it to be entertaining for the fans and players to get out there and compete,” said the 11-year vet, who has kept in shape with frequent cardio throughout the quarantine. “As soon as we can get this ramped up, I’m ready to go. I feel like the majority of players feel the same way.”
Besides Zoom conferencing with teammates and fending off rust by hooping at local parks, Harden has kept busy by binging The Last Dance, paying close attention to what made Michael Jordan and other stars of his era tick. “I just can’t watch it to watch it,” said Harden, who arrived in the NBA six years after Jordan’s second (and ultimately final) retirement. “I want to see the ins and out and everything because at the end of the day, I am a competitor and I want to see what those dudes were going through.”