James Harden recently completed the best season of his career. On his way to an MVP-caliber season, Harden averaged 29 points, 11 assists, and 8 rebounds.
The award will be announced in a few weeks, and Harden has a strong chance to win it.
However, none of this would’ve been possible if he hadn’t extricated himself from the Kardashian tractor beam core.
Harden dated celebutante and reality TV star Khloe Kardashian during what he dubbed as the “worst year” of his life. After the breakup, Harden was able to avoid unnecessary distractions and focus on basketball.
From the Washington Post:
Harden had been dating the 32-year-old reality-TV superstar for much of last season. In a lengthy profile published…by Sports Illustrated, the five-time all-star talked about how he had to “eliminate” the circus-like atmosphere that the Kardashians generate, for the benefit of both himself and his teammates.
Here is the pertinent passage:
“I’m not worried about anything but hooping,” says Harden, 27, “and that may be why I’m having this kind of success.”
The process of untangling a crowded life began a year ago, when he and Khloe broke up after an eight-month romance, which began with a meeting at Kanye West’s basketball-themed birthday party at Staples Center in June.
Harden does not reference Khloe but reflects on the tabloid apparatus that accompanies her. “I didn’t like all the attention,” he says.
“I feel like it was for no reason. I wasn’t getting anything out of it except my name out there and my face out there, and I don’t need that. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it wasn’t me. I don’t need pictures of myself when I’m driving my car. Who cares? What shoes am I wearing? Who cares? Where am I eating? Who cares? It was unnecessary stuff that I think trickled down to my teammates. I had to eliminate that.”
Harden’s teammates highlighted his growth as a player, which has to be at least partially related to releasing the baggage of the distracting relationship.
Houston Rockets big man Clint Capela told Uproxx:
“He’s amazing. He been helping this team all year, consistently making the right choice, the right passes. He’s unbelievable. This was his best season for us.”
If one believes in superstition, Harden was smart to split from Khloe so as to avoid the “Kardashian curse.”
Here are just a few of the Kardashian beaus who were beset by hardship: Lamar Odom (was on life support after slipping into a coma), Tristan Thompson (went from integral piece for the Cavs last year in the finals, to a complete non-factor and liability), Reggie Bush (woefully underachieved based on draft hype), and Kanye West (lost his mind at a concert and canceled his tour).
And again, these are just a few.
Harden was smart not to tempt fate. Better to cut and run and give basketball his all.