James Harden spoke to reporters for the first time as a Philadelphia 76er on Tuesday, sharing his optimism and excitement for his new team.
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“I just knew for a very long time this was a perfect fit,” Harden said. “Obviously, you have the best big man in the league in Joel, and then obviously the coaching. Just from top to bottom, it made sense. I’m just happy and blessed that I’m here. As Doc [Rivers] and everybody wants … it’s [about] being the last team standing. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Harden also stated that he wanted to go to Philadelphia when Houston was looking to move him.
“Originally, when I was going through everything I was going through in Houston, Philly was my first choice,” Harden said. “It just didn’t happen.”
He said he wished it ‘worked like that’ but understood Houston had to do what was best for them ‘present and future.’
Harden elaborated on his fit with the 76ers and praised his new teammate, Joel Embiid.
“I think we complement each other,” Harden said. “Obviously, the whole world knows how great Joel has been playing — not just scoring with the basketball but rebounding. He had a triple-double last game. His presence alone is unbelievable — I feel like I’m the same way as far as making my teammates better and doing different things that impact the game at the highest level. And then we have a great core of guys that can also help with that.”
Harden also spoke on his left hamstring, an injury that will keep him out through the All-Star break.
“Hamstring feels really good. Just doing a lot of strengthening work right now. It definitely was a collaborative decision on making sure that after the break, we were full go. Uphill is the only way we can go,” Harden said. “To my conditioning, it’s great. I’ve been doing a lot of running, a lot of sprints, a lot of treadmill work, strength, and conditioning. But it’s nothing like basketball conditioning, playing 5-on-5 and pick-and-rolls and getting hit and things like that. So that’s something I’ve got to incorporate. But overall, my body feels great.”
As for what Harden wants out of his time in Philadelphia? He put it simply, stating,
“I just wanted to get here and take my time, and most importantly focus on the end game, and that’s winning a championship.”
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