Longtime NBA big man Kendrick Perkins has always been vocal and he’s making another bold statement about James Harden. He said on ESPN’s NBA Today that if Harden can’t talk to Kyrie Irving off his decision to remain unvaccinated, then he should leave the Nets.
I actually agree with him and it’s not for the same reason Perkins argued.
“If I'm James Harden I’m ready to get the hell out. … I don’t blame him for being frustrated right now. Hell, I don’t blame him if he leaves this summer to be honest because he deserves better.”
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) January 26, 2022
Richard Jefferson fired off an excellent rebuttal following the initial statement that Harden should be able to “speak his frustrations with Irving.”
“Kyrie isn’t folding to financial pressure, he isn’t folding under political pressure, he is’t folding under scientific pressure, and he isn’t folding under peer pressure, then why would Harden apply pressure when he knows it won’t work?” Jefferson said.
I agree other than their point about scientific pressure. Had Kyrie followed science the way these show hosts seem to want, he’d likely feel even better about his decision to remain unvaccinated. Irving receiving the vaccine, according to science, would be about as useless as injecting a child — there’s literally no risk of dying from covid as an in-shape professional athlete, so science says Kyrie did the right thing. But these guys don’t know that — they watch CNN habitually.
All that said, Perkins’ conclusion is spot on that Harden should leave. He had no clue what was to come of New York’s vaccine mandate that would force Irving to fold to the vaccine pressure or remain on the sideline. Harden needs to acknowledge Irving’s right to say ‘no’ while also pointing out that these mandates are directly impacting his chances to capture his first NBA championship. That’s not Harden’s fault, it’s his state leadership’s screw up.
If Harden believes Irving’s absence is too much of a burden for Durant and himself to overcome in June, then pack your bags. Of course we’d prefer players stick around with their current teams, but it’s a little late for all that.