James Harden’s China journey could wind up being one of the crucial monumental offseason moments of the 12 months. He’s operating round China complaining about his contract, throwing Daryl Morey’s name out there as crimson meat to a ravenous viewers wanting to villainize his boss, and promoting his alcohol model extra feverishly than Conor McGregor.
Two days after throwing Morey below the bus at an Adidas occasion on Monday, Harden joined a stream with Chinese influencer Xiao Yang, who flexed the nation’s devotion to hoops tradition. In the course of the stream, Harden talked about he often offered a couple of instances a day of his J-Harden Wines. In response, Yang requested Harden to make a pitch for viewers.
Yang rapidly knowledgeable Harden that the wine had offered out. Understandably, Harden was in such disbelief that he needed to verify for himself. After confirming the sold-out stock, Harden cartwheeled in celebration.
QVC has nothing on China’s social media fervor, and it is smart that he’d be so simply embraced. Chinese language Gen Z is extraordinarily on-line, partially by design, and the nation’s basketball viewers is among the world’s largest. It additionally helps that Harden spent a decade of his prime on a Rockets franchise that ingratiated itself to the nation after drafting Yao Ming No. 1 total, even when the nationwide hero was unable to revive Houston to championship glory.
Bless his coronary heart, although — Harden is singularly centered on making enterprise strikes this summer season. Wine and spirits for professional athletes is as a lot of a come-up as a cosmetics model or a sports activities drink funding. No person’s mad at him. Go get your bread. Doing so on the expense of teammates and a longtime work relationship through private assaults is the corniest factor he’s ever finished.
Harden working as a proxy for the Chinese state in an affect marketing campaign towards Morey is a improvement that seems like one thing out of an Enes Kanter fantasy, and you’ll make certain Kanter will run with it as quickly as his quarter-hour of airtime as an anti-trans hack are over.
Total, The Beard appears to be like like he’s actually having fun with himself throughout his tour by means of China. He’s snug, possibly too snug, doing something called the Ting Ting Tang Tang and making an attempt to get his fledgling J-Harden Wines off the bottom.
However should you informed me there was a celebrity who would find yourself taking a Cristiano Ronaldo-caliber deal to play within the Saudi League or China, it will be Harden. Few issues make him extra joyous than chucking up an limitless stream of pictures and giving defenders melatonin whereas he dribbles out the shot clock, however he gained’t be on condition that sort of heliocentric position within the NBA anymore.
Sadly, remaining in China to finish his profession isn’t an choice for now. Harden is already below contract for one more season with the Philadelphia 76ers after opting again on this summer season, and hoisting 75 pictures an evening with the Guangdong Tigers could be a breach of his contract. That’s a headache he doesn’t want. Finally Harden must come house, descend from the emotional highs of this week, and face the entrance workplace he’s been unhealthymouthing. However for now, you’ll be able to throw rising his manufacturers and feuding with entrance workplaces onto the pile of issues Harden is extra obsessed with than grinding for a championship.
Comply with DJ Dunson on Twitter: @cerebralsportex