James Harden of the Houston Rockets scored 36.1 points per game last season, more than anyone in NBA history not named Michael Jordan or Wilt Chamberlain. But he wasn’t named the NBA’s most valuable player, finishing second in voting to Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee. Why? Well, it’s obvious: It was the media’s fault.
Harden appeared on Houston radio station 97.9 The Box on Wednesday to explain.
“It’s out of my control. I think once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year. I think they just take the narrative and run with it the entire year. I don’t want to get into any details, but all I can do is control what I can do. I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level, you know what I’m saying?”
Harden doesn’t explain exactly what the narrative was that cost him the MVP award, but Morning Briefing apologizes for that item earlier this season that talked about his amazing 30-point scoring streak and is sincerely sorry if that cost him votes.
Ask Orel Hershiser
Readers of our Dodgers newsletter were recently able to ask all-time Dodgers great Orel Hershiser some questions. Here are a couple of highlights:
Andrew Helman asks: Who were one or two of the toughest batters you had to face?
Orel: Statistically, if people look it up, they are probably going to come up with different names than I will. Statistically I think Craig Biggio was the ultimate right-handed hitter against me and Davey Concepcion is the guy I dominated the most.
But in the back of my mind, as far as the way I pitched, I would say low-ball-hitting left-handed hitters were the biggest challenge. Being a sinkerball pitcher, it was strength vs. strength. So, it was a guy like Gregg Jefferies, Wally Backman, Keith Hernandez, Barry Bonds. But the low-ball-hitting lefty in my generation was a very tough out for me.
Tony Cortes of San Pedro asks: Are you in favor of the electronic strike zone?
Orel: I have come over in favor of the electronic strike zone fully this year. I was not quite in favor before because I would get feedback from a player that “Hey, be careful when talking about our eye, because the strike zone is off by about three inches tonight.” I don’t hear any talk from the players like that this year. So, that makes me now on board with it.
Elliot Powers of San Diego asks: Are you for or against the DH in the National League?
Orel: I like the diversity in the game right now, with the NL not having a DH and the AL having one. Some will say, “Fans don’t want to see pitchers hit.” I understand that, but also, it brings a lot of strategy into the game. Do you hit for the pitcher now or wait? Roster configuration, defensive replacements, double switches — it creates a lot of strategic interest. But I also like the DH extending the careers of great players. You can play a guy who is slightly injured and you can give a guy a day of rest from fielding but still have him hit. Both those things allow your stars to play more often. I like that part of the game too, so I think we get the best of both worlds right now, with no DH in the NL and the DH in the AL.
Many Lakers fans seem extremely concerned that the team could reunite with Dwight Howard in their quest to find a replacement for the injured DeMarcus Cousins. So our new poll question is: Should the Lakers acquire Dwight Howard? You can vote online at poll.fm/10389250 or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your answer.