Basketball star James Harden is receiving widespread applause from NBA fans after he turned down a $47.3 million deal in order to help his team, the Philadelphia 76ers.
Harden has reportedly declined the option from the Sixers in order to become a free agent, but he seemingly intends to play for them, freeing up cash needed to allow the Philadelphia-based team to boost their roster.
The news has been seemingly confirmed by The Athletic and ESPN, though Harden, nor the 76ers have yet to make a public statement of their own.
Social media has heaped praise on Harden for his apparent decision, with many suggesting he’s prioritizing championships over cash.
“James Harden didn’t take the money because winning a ring is more important to him,” wrote @TerryFranconia, adding, “Put some respect on [the] James Harden name.”
The Athletic journalist Shams Charania is credited with breaking the news and further explained Harden’s mentality with turning down the lucrative deal.
“Harden’s sole focus: Win a title in Philadelphia next season. Harden returned to his workout and on-court regimen much sooner than usual this off-season, pouring his full focus on 2022-23 and a championship run.”
Harden only arrived in Philadelphia after being traded from the Brooklyn Nets in February 2022. He helped the Sixers reach the playoffs but they lost to the Miami Heat in the Conference Semifinals.
“A lot of people owe James Harden an apology, man…” @JoshReynolds24 weighed in. “Dude pulled a [Tom Brady] by taking less money to give Philly flexibility to make the squad around him & Embiid better.” Addressing Harden directly he said, “You’re a real one@JHarden13 – Let’s go win it all.”
Many sports broadcasters and writers latched onto the story to explain to the fans where this story could lead.
“**James Harden** being the guy that takes less money to help team-build is going to send The Narrative into unprecedented disarray,” said TV writer and sports broadcaster Michael Levin on Twitter.
ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski explained all the major figures to be aware of when considering Harden’s refusal to take his $47.3 million option.
“[Harden] keeps real the possibility of negotiating a new deal that would deliver the Sixers roster-building flexibility in free agency, including use of the full $10.5M exception.” Wojnarowski continued: “The opt-out could go a long way in reshaping the Sixers’ bench, including that full mid-level exception, $4.1M bi-annual exception and sign-and-trades.”
The Philadelphia 76ers fan account, Sixers Nation has expressed its gratitude to Harden already. It explained, that Harden “intends to return to the team on a contract that will allow the Sixers to add multiple pieces to contend for a championship. Thank you James.”
Many people online compared Harden’s refusal to take the payday with Russell Westbrook who recently picked up his own $47.1 million option with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Fox Sports host Skip Bayless compared the two deals and the respective decisions made by the two players. “Westbrook opted IN for his $47 mil, after an all-time disastrous season. He is about helping only Westbrook,” said Bayless.
Philadelphia-based journalist Bill Anderson stated that any criticism towards calling Harden a “selfish” player should be put off for at least a year after his decision.
Harden arrived at the Sixers with Paul Millsap, in exchange for Ben Simmons, Seth Curry and Andre Drummond going the other way to Brooklyn.
Anderson also believes the 76ers “got the better player & much better teammate in the Nets trade.”
Newsweek has reached out to the Philadelphia 76ers for further comment.