Step Back to the East
James Harden has captured the spotlight in China this week, making waves after branding 76ers' basketball operations president, Daryl Morey, a "liar" at a recent Adidas-sponsored event. Despite this controversy, it's evident that Harden is enjoying his time in China, hinting at a potential increase in his presence across the Pacific.
As reported by Keith Pompey from The Philadelphia Inquirer, the 33-year-old basketball star has expressed interest in the idea of playing in China sometime down the line. "Each time I'm here, the level of adoration is just overwhelming... it's truly unbelievable," Harden remarked. He went on to say, "It only feels right that I give them the chance to witness me play here... The passion from the fans here is always off the charts," Pompey's article quoted Harden as saying.
This week, Harden received an unexpected surge of support from his Chinese fan base. Astonishingly, a whopping 10,000 bottles of his own wine brand, J-Harden Wine, sold out within a mere 10 seconds during a live stream event.
Although Harden recently exercised his contract's final year with the 76ers and requested a trade away from Philadelphia, it was reported by Adrian Wojnarowski that the team has ceased trade discussions regarding the ten-time All-Star. In a surprising twist, news has emerged that Harden does not intend to participate in the upcoming training camp, possibly indicating that he envisions a scenario in which he might eventually play overseas.
However, the likelihood of Harden's immediate move to play professionally in China seems limited due to the constraints of the Chinese Basketball Association's (CBA) regulations.
The CBA stipulates that violating a contract by withholding playing services for over 30 days following the previous season's conclusion would bar a player from signing with another professional team. This would effectively hinder Harden's prospects of joining a different team in China.
Nonetheless, Harden seems open to the possibility of spending a season in the Chinese Basketball Association before retiring from the sport. This suggests that while an immediate move is improbable, playing in China holds appeal for Harden in the latter stages of his career.