What in the world happened to James Harden during the Rockets’ elimination playoff game against the Spurs on Thursday night? That’s the question that many NBA fans both inside and outside of Houston were asking after San Antonio destroyed the Rockets 114-75 to advance to the Western Conference Finals, where they will face off against the Warriors.
The Spurs played Game 6 of their series against the Rockets without the services of their superstar Kawhi Leonard, who suffered an ankle injury in Game 5, but Harden played so poorly against the Spurs that it didn’t even matter. He scored just 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting and committed six turnovers during the game. And worse, he looked disinterested in playing for most of the night, which caused more than a few fans to question what he was doing:
To his credit, Harden shouldered the blame for the blowout loss after the game.
"Everything falls on my shoulders," he said. "I take responsibility for it, both ends of the floor. You know, it’s tough, especially the way we lost at home for Game 6. But it happened. Now we move forward."
Harden, who didn’t score his first points of the game against the Spurs until almost the six-minute mark in the second quarter, also said that the Rockets simply struggled to get into any sort of rhythm at the start of the game.
"I feel like I was making some passes, and we just didn’t knock down shots or whatever the case may be," said Harden, who averaged 28.5 points and 8.5 assists during the Rockets’ playoff run. "As a team, as a unit, we didn’t have a rhythm, and they capitalized on that."
And while there might be some truth to that, Harden himself was so bad that some people accused him of fixing the game, as if that was the only explanation for his putrid performance:
Rockets fans begged Lil B not to put his infamous Based God Curse on Harden, but it was to no avail. Harden continued to use the cooking dance, and eventually, Lil B cursed him. And it looked like there was something to that curse after Harden put up a terrible 14-point, 12-turnover performance against the Warriors during an elimination game in the 2015 NBA Playoffs. He also shot just 2-of-11 from the field in that game.
Lil B briefly lifted the curse from Harden in June 2015, but it didn't last. He credited the curse with helping Harden set a new NBA record for most turnovers in a single season in April 2016:
He also warned Harden about using the cooking dance again this past April and reminded him about the curse:
And as recently as just last week, he spoke with ESPN’s The Undefeated about the curse and said Harden "is the only player in the NBA that’s cursed" at the moment. Kevin Durant had been subjected to the Based God Curse in the past, but Lil B lifted it after he joined the Warriors last summer.
But is the curse really the reason Harden played as poorly as he did against the Spurs on Thursday night? We can’t believe we’re actually saying this, but it’s as good an explanation as some of the others we’ve seen. There are literally people who think Harden threw the game to benefit the mafia, so who are we to say that the Based God Curse didn’t play a role in Harden’s struggles?
Whatever the case may be, Lil B is now offering to lift the curse from Harden—if he’s willing to put his ego to the side and talk to Lil B this offseason. Shortly after the Rockets got bounced from the playoffs, Lil B sent out this tweet:
And plenty of people responded to it by urging Harden to pick up the phone and call Lil B to have the curse lifted:
Whether you buy into this Based God Curse business or not, it’s clear that something wasn’t right with Harden on Thursday night. So it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to take whatever steps he feels are necessary—including possibly calling Lil B—to correct the problems he had before next season rolls around. Otherwise, this curse might continue to haunt him.