Russell Westbrook Confirms He’s the Most Stylish Player in the NBA and Talks New Clothing Line Honor the Gift

When reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook isn't stuffing the nightly stat line—he's averaging nearly a triple double so far this season—the Oklahoma City Thunder guard is showing just how serious he is when it comes to his fashion sense.

Over the weekend, Complex News' Speedy Morman chopped it up with Westbrook at his pop-up shop in OKC where the NBA star debuted his new clothing line Honor the Gift. “I wanted something that looked back to Why Not? but also giving thanks to the man above for blessing each individual,” he said of the inspiration behind the line.

Check out our full interview with Westbrook up top, where he confirms he's the most stylish player in the NBA and talks about teasing his clothing line earlier this year at the “Kith Sport” New York Fashion Week show. You can get more info on Honor the Gift here.

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Carmelo Anthony’s Son Is One of the Main Reasons He Ended Up on the Thunder

When Isaiah Thomas got traded to the Cavaliers as part of the Kyrie Irving deal this summer, he wasn’t happy about it. At all. In fact, he’s still not all that thrilled with the way things went down, and he has committed himself to not speaking to Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge for the foreseeable future. But there was one person who was ecstatic when he found out Thomas had been traded: His own son James.

“LEBRON! LEBRON JAMES!” his son yelled when he found out about the trade, according to a piece Thomas penned for The Players’ Tribune. “Dad—Dad. You get to play with LeBron James!”

And it sounds like there’s another famous NBA player’s son who was also incredibly happy when he found out that his dad had been traded to a contender.

Carmelo Anthony spoke with The New York Times this week, ahead of the Thunder’s season-opening game against the Knicks on Thursday night. He revealed that long before he considered waiving his no-trade clause to accept a trade that would take him to Oklahoma City, his son Kiyan came to him and told him that he should consider making a move to the Thunder. Carmelo hadn’t thought about it much up until that point, but he said it definitely played a role in his final decision to go to OKC.

“My son said he wanted me to play for OKC,” Carmelo said. “Even before OKC was in the picture.”

Carmelo suggested it wasn’t the only time he had discussed the possibility of a trade with his son, but he said Kiyan was pretty adamant about the idea of him playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George.

“My son has a basketball mind,” he said. “So I will always throw little topics at him. He was like, 'Dad, where are you getting traded to?' I told him, 'I don’t know, where do you think I should go?' He said: 'You really want me to give you my opinion? I think you should go to OKC.' It worked out.”

It sure did—and OKC fans have Kiyan to thank.

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Elsewhere in his interview with the NYT, Carmelo addressed the fractured relationship he had with Phil Jackson. He admitted that he only spoke to Jackson twice all last season, and accused Jackson of trying to trade him away from the Knicks “for a bag of chips.” He also spoke on how difficult it was to deal with it all while also trying to focus on playing basketball.

“When I signed with the Knicks, I wanted to be in New York and I believed in Phil,” he said. “Then last year it went to: I was being pushed out. There were things being said about me that I didn’t know where they were coming from. And I still had to go to the gym and play and practice and deal with the media, answer all those questions every day.”

You can check out the Times’ full piece on Carmelo ahead of his game against the Knicks here.

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Carmelo Anthony Takes Subtle Jab at Knicks Over Joining OKC

Carmelo Anthony has only been playing for the Thunder for about 10 days now. But to hear him tell it, he’s already way happier playing in Oklahoma City than he ever was playing for the Knicks.

On Monday, Carmelo—who is a three-time Olympic gold medalist—told reporters that playing alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George on the Thunder feels a little bit like playing alongside his fellow Olympians as part of Team USA. And while explaining why that is, he managed to take a shot at the Knicks and the talent, or lack thereof, that he was surrounded with when he played in New York City.

Olympic Melo connotation comes into play [where] I’m surrounded by great players,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I try to get where the game is easier for myself, easier for everybody else. That’s where I can come in and not have to do too much and bring my game and help me blend with other guys. I’ve always been a product of my environment. Whatever the environment wants from me, that’s what I give my environment. This environment is different, reminds me of being around Olympic teams, those great teams.”

Elsewhere, Carmelo also spoke about how his move to the Thunder has rejuvenated him and put some energy back into his game. It sounds like playing for the Knicks was dragging him down and sucking a lot of the fun out of basketball for him, which isn’t going to be a problem now that he’s in OKC.

“I’m like born again a little bit,” he said. “I feel like I’m in college again. My second college campus being around in a city with a college feel. The energy and joy is back with the game of basketball. I can feel it when I wake up. That energy is different. I think you’ll see something special.”

Can you blame Carmelo for being this happy? After what he endured in NYC over the last few years, the idea of going into a season with a championship being a realistic goal has to feel great. And while the Knicks players who played with him probably won’t be thrilled to hear what he had to say about his time with the team, it’s hard to argue with the things he said and it’ll be interesting to see what he looks like once he starts taking the court for the Thunder on a nightly basis.

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Carmelo Anthony Reveals 2 Major Trades That Almost Happened This Summer

Carmelo Anthony sent shockwaves through the NBA community last Saturday when he agreed to waive his no-trade clause so that the Knicks could deal him to the Thunder. It gave Oklahoma City three superstars on its roster—Anthony will be joined by Russell Westbrook and Paul George next season—and it also made the Western Conference even more talented than it already was (R.I.P. Eastern Conference, smh).

On Thursday, Anthony sent even more shockwaves through the NBA community with some comments he made on SiriusXM Radio. While talking about his trade, he said that he came close to being traded not once but twice at other times during the offseason. One of those trades involved him heading to Houston to join James Harden and Chris Paul on the Rockets.

“A deal was done with Houston early, then for some reason, whatever happened behind-the-scenes, it didn’t go through,” he said. “It fell through, then we had to really start paying attention and thinking about other options.”

That trade, according to Anthony, nearly went down in July. And there was another trade involving Anthony that almost happened a few weeks before that on the night of the 2017 NBA Draft. Anthony claims that he and George were scheduled to be dealt to the Cavaliers in deals that would have put Anthony, George, and LeBron James on the same team during the upcoming season. But that trade was also called off before it was finalized.

“It was funny because me and PG was supposed to be in Cleveland on draft night,” he said on SiriusXM. “We were communicating about that. The deal was actually done, and it got called off on draft night, so me and PG stayed connected throughout the course of the [offseason]. We never even talked about OKC, though.”

It’s pretty crazy to think about how all of this played out. And it’s also pretty crazy to think about what might have happened if Anthony had been traded to either the Cavaliers or Rockets. It could have affected where a bunch of other players, including guys like Kyrie Irving and Dwyane Wade, landed. And it could have shaken up the NBA even more this summer. What an offseason.

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Carmelo Anthony Traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder

Carmelo Anthony is getting his wish and leaving New York. According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, the Knicks have come to terms on a deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder that will send Enes Kanter, Doug McDermott, and a 2018 second-round pick in exchange for Anthony. 

Wojnarowski reports that Anthony continued to pressure the Knicks front office into getting a deal done with training camp set to begin next week. However, the organization needed to jump through several hoops in order to turn his demand into a reality. First and foremost, the Knicks had to find a team that Melo would deem fit to waive his no-trade clause. 

With the help of Thunder star point guard Russell Westbrook and the newly-acquired Paul George, Anthony waived his no-trade clause, as well as his trade kicker, in order to make the deal work. Did Westbrook and George ensure Anthony that they will be staying in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future, even though their contracts are up at the end of this upcoming season? While George-to-L.A. next year seems like the league's worst-kept secret, maybe Russ has been able to get through to PG-13 on the idea of building something special in OKC. 

For Anthony, the move allows him to settle into a role more suited for his style of play. The Westbrook-to-Melo drive-and-kick it out potential is enough to give the rest of the league fits. Add George into that equation, and you have a serious contender at dethroning the Goliath of the NBA, the Golden State Warriors. 

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Remember When Kevin Durant Ruined the Fourth of July?

When Kevin Durant signed a five-year, $86 million contract extension with the Oklahoma City Thunder on July 7, 2010, he did so without any of the pomp and circumstance that came along with the decision that LeBron James would make on The Decision just one day later. Unlike LeBron—who infamously sat down for a live TV interview with Jim Gray to discuss his decision to leave the Cavaliers in order to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh on the Heat—KD didn’t make a big deal out of his announcement. He revealed that he would be staying put in OKC through at least the 2015-16 NBA season by sending out this simple, straightforward, no-frills tweet, spelling and grammatical errors and all:

And when The New York Times tracked KD down later that same day to ask him why he decided to go that route as opposed to broadcasting his decision in a more spectacular fashion, he seemed confused by the question. “What’s there to really talk about?” he said, before explaining why he was so low-key when it came time to tell the world that he was going to stay in OKC for another five years. “I just told everybody I wasn’t talking about it, really. I just kept it to myself. That’s just the type of person I am. I don’t like the attention around me.”

At the time, KD was applauded by many NBA fans and members of the media for using social media to announce his contract extension rather than dragging the process out like LeBron did. KD’s method was seen as a breath of fresh air at a time when the NBA free agency period was starting to turn into a much bigger storyline than it had been in the past, due to the sudden growth and popularity of social media. “Kevin Durant didn’t need a one-hour special on the World Wide Leader,” Darnell Mayberry, a writer for The Oklahoman, wrote at the time. “The Thunder’s star was satisfied with just 140 characters.”

But sometime between July 2010 when he signed his contract extension with the Thunder and July 2016 when he became a free agent, KD’s attitude towards free agency seemed to change. The NBA free agency period continued to become more and more of a circus every year, with NBA reporters like David Aldridge of NBA.com, Marc Stein of ESPN, and of course, Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports tracking the every move of NBA free agents the moment the clock struck midnight on July 1.

Players like Deron Williams, Dwight Howard, and LeBron—who became a free agent again in 2014 and announced his decision to return to the Cavaliers by penning a letter to the city of Cleveland in Sports Illustrated—took full advantage of it by meeting with as many teams as they could and hearing as many pitches from executives as possible once they became free agents. And as KD’s own free agency started to get closer and closer, he seemed to embrace the idea of going through the process just as players like Williams, Howard, and LeBron had.

By early 2016, there were reports about how KD wanted to be courted once he officially became a free agent. Much to the chagrin of all the Thunder fans out there, it didn’t sound like KD was going to announce that he was re-signing with the Thunder through another tweet. Rather, Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Mannix reported that KD was looking forward to being wined and dined by different NBA teams. Sources told Mannix KD’s free agency was going to be a much bigger production than it had been in 2010:

Durant is looking forward to being recruited, to being courted, to being treated like the biggest free-agent prize since LeBron James six years ago. The chances of Durant sending a simple tweet again announcing his return are virtually nonexistent, but the Thunder remain hopeful that his decision, regardless of how this season ends, is the same.

KD downplayed all of the various reports about him entertaining offers from other NBA teams during free agency throughout the 2015-16 NBA season. He said all the right things about the Thunder organization and his teammates, and he never really gave any indication that he was going to seriously consider leaving OKC once July 1 hit.

But by late June, it was clear that KD was going to, at the very least, listen to what other teams had to say. According to ESPN, KD’s representatives scheduled meetings with the Warriors, Spurs, Celtics, Heat, Clippers, and Thunder. Teams like the Knicks, Wizards, and Lakers reportedly tried to get time with KD, too. It seemed like it was exactly what KD was looking for, based on the earlier reports.

It was unclear how long it was going to take KD to make his final decision, though. He had so many meetings set up that it didn’t sound like he was going to get around to letting the world know where he would sign for at least a week once NBA free agency started. One Oklahoman report even suggested KD might hold off until July 9 to sign with a team, which would have meant nine days worth of speculation surrounding what he was ultimately going to do. But once free agency officially started, Wojnarowski revealed that July 4 looked like the day KD would make his announcement:

During the first few days of July, it was difficult to keep up with all of the KD news that was coming out. There were reports about how his initial meeting with the Thunder on July 1 “went well,” according to ESPN sources. But there were also reports about how a subsequent meeting with the Warriors went “very well,” which seemed to trump the earlier report about his OKC meeting:

There were other meetings with the teams listed above on July 2 and July 3, too. But after two days, it seemed like the Thunder and Warriors were leading the pack and had the best chances of signing KD to a deal. KD met with the Thunder for a second time on July 3 to conclude his scheduled free agency meetings:

And then, he stepped back from the process to weigh his options, with many reporters close to the situation—like ESPN’s Royce Young—reporting that he was close to picking either the Thunder or Warriors:

The stage was set for July 4 to be the day KD would announce his decision:

July 4 would end up being one of the most agonizing days in recent history for NBA fans, players, and reporters. When LeBron made his decision in 2010, there was a lot of hype surrounding it, but there was also a definitive day and time when everyone would be able to tune in and see which team LeBron was going to pick. The Decision would air at 9 p.m. on ESPN, and shortly thereafter, we would all know where LeBron was going to play the following season.

It wasn’t like that for KD. While most people suspected his decision was going to come down on July 4, KD himself hadn’t confirmed or denied the reports about it, and he also later admitted that when he woke up on July 4, he still hadn’t made a definitive decision as to which team he was going to sign with. So the world waited—and oddly enough, poked fun at KD’s old BlackPlanet page—while he mulled over the decision on the morning of July 4.

To KD’s credit, he didn’t keep us waiting for very long. At right around noon on July 4, KD took to Twitter for the second time in his NBA career to announce what he planned to do in free agency. But this time, it took more than 140 characters to get his message across. He tweeted out a link to a post he had written for The Players’ Tribune called “My Next Chapter”:

And in the post, KD shared some stunning news: He was leaving the Thunder to join the Warriors.

The news sent shock waves through the NBA community, and it ruined a lot of people’s Fourth of July. Thunder fans were obviously upset about the fact that KD was leaving the team, just six years after he had committed to OKC and told fans that he planned to stay there for a long, long time:

Other NBA fans were disappointed with KD’s decision as well. Many reacted to the news about KD signing with the Warriors by pointing out that there wouldn’t really even be a reason to play the 2016-17 NBA season since the result seemed like a foregone conclusion:

The words “Damn KD” started trending on Twitter:

And within just minutes of KD making his announcement, Stephen A. Smith was all over ESPN ripping him for it. He was one of many media members upset with the way KD’s free agency period ended:

NBA players also chimed in and seemed just as shocked as fans. It was surreal to see what some of them had to say:

In the end, not everyone had their days ruined. There were plenty of Warriors fans out there who were thrilled to hear about KD’s decision. Golden State was just a few weeks removed from blowing a 3-1 lead to lose to the Cavaliers in the 2016 NBA Finals. So KD signing with the Warriors was exactly what they needed at the time.

But for most people outside of the Bay Area, July 4, 2016—a day that should have been all about beer, burgers, and fireworks—was anything but a celebration. It was a shocking jolt to the system that proved the NBA was about to change dramatically during the following season. It was also a disappointing end to what seemed like a fun free agency period for KD.

It was basically everything that July 7, 2010 wasn’t. Back then, KD was just looking to work out a deal with as little fanfare as possible. But by 2016, that had all changed—and there were so many people who resented and still resent KD for it. And they're not going to forget about it anytime soon.

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NBA Draft Picks Were Put on Blast With These Old Embarrassing Tweets

Here’s some free advice for all of the guys who are hoping to get selected in the NBA Draft next year: start going through your various social media accounts now and deleting anything that could potentially come back to bite you once you walk across the stage and shake hands with Adam Silver. Trust us, it'll be well worth your time.

It should be a pretty simple concept, and NBA prospects pay agents, publicists, and other handlers quite a bit of money to make them look good in the public eye. We would guess that a big part of that is scrubbing anything that could be perceived as even slightly controversial off social media in the months, weeks, and even days leading up to a big event like the NBA Draft.

But on Thursday night, 60 players were selected during the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, and after they were drafted, Twitter went into overdrive and started looking through their old tweets to try and dig up any dirt that they may have posted in the past. And somewhat amazingly—in a “How the hell is this still happening?” kind of way—there were quite a few players who had incriminating stuff located deep in their Twitter timelines.

Some of the stuff was relatively harmless but still raised eyebrows among NBA fan bases. For example, Jayson Tatum—who was selected No. 3 overall by the Celtics—once sent out this tweet in the middle of a Boston game in 2012:

Jayson Tatum tweet.
Image via Twitter

Likewise, Lonzo Ball, the Lakers’ pick at No. 2 overall, sent out this tweet back in 2013 that seemed to predict Kobe Bryant & Co. wouldn’t make the playoffs before the 2013-14 season even started:

Lonzo Ball tweet.
Image via Twitter

Jordan Bell, who was drafted by the Bulls at No. 38 before being traded to the Warriors, said this about Golden State in 2016:

And Terrance Ferguson, selected with the No. 21 pick by the Thunder, had this to say about Oklahoma City when the Warriors were on the verge of coming back from a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Western Conference Finals:

Terrance Ferguson tweet.
Image via Twitter

We’re sure OKC fans loved being reminded of that, especially since the loss to the Warriors ended up costing them Kevin Durant. We’re also sure they now appreciate the fact that Ferguson is actually from Oklahoma but was actively rooting against the Thunder as recently as just last year.

But those tweets were just the beginning. Elsewhere, Twitter dug up this old 2012 tweet from Edmond Sumner, the Pacers’ pick at No. 52, that featured him accusing the NBA of being fixed:

Edmond Sumner tweet.
Image via Twitter

There was also this tweet from Sindarius Thornwell, who was drafted at No. 48 by the Bucks before being traded to the Clippers, that outlined his approach to dating:

Sindarius Thornwell tweet.
Image via Twitter

But the most interesting—and the most embarrassing—old tweets came from the No. 9 and No. 10 picks in the draft. Zach Collins went tenth overall to the Trail Blazers, and when he did, some Portland fans took to Twitter in an effort to find out more about him, since he was one of the lesser-known prospects to go in the lottery portion of the draft. What they found was this 2012 (2 Chainz-inspired?) tweet:

Zach Collins tweet.
Image via Twitter

They also discovered this extremely awkward Vine of Collins twerking—or at least, what we think was his best attempt at twerking:

Collins deleted both of those tweets as well as a bunch of others that showed him acting a fool when he was, like, 14.

But the most embarrassing tweet of the night definitely belonged to Dennis Smith Jr., who went ninth overall to the Mavericks in the draft. Shortly after he was selected, one of his tweets from back in 2012 went viral, and it took him a long time (too long!) to take it down. It said—*cringe*—this:

Dennis Smith Jr. tweet.
Image via Twitter

The moral of the story here is pretty simple. If you’re going to spend your teenage years tweeting whatever your little heart desires, cool. But make sure you delete everything—and we do mean everything—before you’re on one of the biggest stages in sports. Or else…

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Kevin Durant Claps Back at Twitter Trolls Who Are Talking Trash

The NBA Finals are over, which means Kevin Durant is back on Twitter.

KD has a lot of time on his hands, basking in the glory of his first NBA title. Apparently, he has so much time that he took it upon himself to address a few Twitter users who have been all up in his mentions with their hot takes and other random insults. Here’s him going in a few days ago:

Today, Durant is still being a savage. It all started when he complemented Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, who became the WNBA’s all-time scoring leader following the team’s win against the Los Angeles Sparks (90-59) in L.A. From there, KD was having some fun, getting into an argument with one superfan from OKC. A “fart in your face” insult was actually hurled.

At this point, you're probably wondering why KD is even engaging in social media at all. Everyone needs to blow off steam somehow, right?

But this might be the real reason. Says “the legend”:

LOL. Nice curve.

Keep doing you, KD.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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The Craziest Theories Fans Came Up With to Explain James Harden’s Terrible Playoff Performance

James Harden had an incredible 2016-17 NBA season, and it could very well end with him winning the NBA MVP award at the first-ever NBA Awards on June 26. He averaged 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 11.2 assists during the regular season and led the Rockets to a surprising 55-27 record that helped them claim the third seed in the Western Conference Playoffs this spring.

But Harden is definitely going to walk away from the season with a bad taste in his mouth thanks to his terrible performance in the Rockets’ elimination playoff game against the Spurs on Thursday night. Harden scored just 10 points during the game on 2-of-11 shooting and committed six turnovers against San Antonio in a 114-75 blowout loss. And he made matters even worse by appearing to be completely disinterested in playing in the game and turning down multiple opportunities to shoot the ball at different points during the contest. He was averaging almost 20 shots per game in the playoffs heading into Game 6 of the best-of-7 series against the Spurs, but it took him until midway through the second quarter to score his first points on Thursday.

So what in the world was wrong with Harden? It’s a question that many NBA fans inside and outside of Houston asked themselves as the game was going on, and they came up with all kinds of theories—ranging from somewhat plausible to completely ridiculous—to try and explain Harden’s awful showing. Here are some of the craziest theories we came across from those searching desperately for an explanation for Harden’s off-night.

“He Owed the Mob Money”

James Harden theory 1.
Image via Getty/Ronald Martinez/Staff

The Theory: The Rockets were 9-point favorites heading into their game against the Spurs and ended up losing by 39. So some fans suggested Harden may have thrown the game to either make good on a debt or to collect some money on the side from those who have a rooting interest in point spreads.

Are We Buying It? Oddly enough, this is not the first time Harden has been accused of being in cahoots with the mob:

We can’t imagine that a guy who was scheduled to make more than $28 million this season would sacrifice a sliver of his legacy to pay off a debt or make some extra cash. But it’s actually kind of strange to see so many people throwing this theory out and accusing the NBA of being fixed (didn’t Ayesha Curry get destroyed on social media for saying the same thing last season? Hmmm…).

“He Couldn’t Escape the Based God Curse”

James Harden theory 2.
Image via Getty/Tim Mosenfelder/Contributor

The Theory: Lil B put his Based God Curse on Harden back in May 2015, and he reminded him as recently as just last week that it was still on. So some fans who believe in such curses think it may have played a part in his poor performance against the Spurs.

Are We Buying It? On the surface, the Based God Curse seems silly. But in addition to struggling against the Spurs on Thursday night, Harden also had an awful game against the Warriors during the 2015 NBA Playoffs—he scored just 14 points while committing 12 turnovers—that would suggest there’s more to the Based God Curse than people might think. It couldn’t hurt for Harden to take Lil B up on his offer to lift the curse. Just saying.

“He Couldn’t Escape the Kardashian Curse, Either”

James Harden theory 3.
Image via Getty/Noel Vasquez/Contributor

The Theory: Harden broke up with Khloé Kardashian back in early 2016. But Travis Scott, a big Rockets fan and the rumored boyfriend of Khloé’s sister Kylie Jenner, attended Game 6 on Thursday and even designed T-shirts that were handed out to all those in attendance at the game. So some fans pointed to the so-called Kardashian Curse as one reason why Harden may have struggled.

Are We Buying It? We’ve argued that the Kardashian Curse isn’t real in the past—and we’re going to stick to it. But the fact that Harden supposedly has two curses working against him can't be good for his psyche.

“He Was Drugged”

James Harden theory 4.
Image via Getty/Jesse D. Garrabrant/Contributor

The Theory: Harden didn’t look like himself on the court on Thursday. So some fans—who no doubt caught this clip of Stephen A. Smith—suggested he may have been drugged before the game started.

Are We Buying It? Now that we’re looking at it, Stephen A. seems to be the only one spewing this theory. So… no. But the fact that he even went to this extreme to try and explain Harden’s performance shows just how poorly he played.

“He Had a Concussion”

James Harden theory 5.
Image via Getty/Ronald Martinez/Staff

The Theory: At the end of Game 5 in San Antonio, Harden got elbowed in the head by Pau Gasol and didn’t score at all in overtime. He didn’t mention having any type of head injury after the game, but some fans think he may have been dealing with the lingering symptoms of a concussion during Game 6.

Are We Buying It? Initially, this theory didn’t seem all that likely. How could Harden sustain a concussion and then hide it from everyone for two days? But there are a lot of people, including at least one NBA executive, who think this could explain everything:

At the very least, it will be interesting to hear Harden explain what effect, if any, the Gasol elbow had on him.

“He Was Filming a Scene for Space Jam 2

James Harden theory 6.
Image via Getty/Frank Trapper/Contributor

The Theory: For most of the game against the Spurs, Harden looked like he had been stripped of all of his basketball skills. So some people suggested he had been stripped of them by the Monstars for a scene in Space Jam 2.

Are We Buying It? Uh, no, but that is what he looked like. So if Space Jam 2 ever happens, Harden’s got a strong audition tape ready to go.

“He Doesn’t Have the Clutch Gene”

James Harden theory 7.
Image via Getty/Ronald Martinez/Staff

The Theory: This isn’t the first time Harden has struggled on the big stage. He struggled mightily during the Thunder’s NBA Finals series against the Heat in 2012, and he also played poorly during an elimination game against the Warriors in 2015. So some fans concluded Harden just doesn't have the so-called “clutch gene.”

Are We Buying It? Ah, the good old “clutch gene.” It’s a figment of Skip Bayless’ imagination—and you can bet your bottom dollar he found a way to use it on Friday to criticize both Harden and LeBron James—but we aren’t buying into that being the reason for Harden’s struggles. What else do you guys got?

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Russell Westbrook and Steph Curry Speak on Scuffle That Broke Out Between Thunder and Warriors

The Warriors/Thunder game in Oklahoma City on Monday night wasn’t much of a game at all. Golden State knocked off OKC 111-95 behind 34 points from Klay Thompson and 23 points from Steph Curry to complete a season sweep of Russell Westbrook & Co. And the intensity inside of Chesapeake Energy Arena wasn’t nearly what it was in early February when Kevin Durant made his first return back to OKC since leaving the Thunder last summer to sign with the Warriors. KD didn’t play this time around due to the knee injury he suffered recently, so Thunder fans weren’t as excited to see Golden State come to town.

 

 

But there was one brief moment late in the second quarter that proved that these two teams still don’t like each other very much. With just 5 seconds remaining on the clock before the halftime, a jump ball was called and players from both teams lined up for it. As they did, Curry and Thunder guard Semaj Christon started jockeying for position and got a little bit too physical with one another. Westbrook saw what was happening and stepped in to stick up for his teammate. And that led to a bunch of pushing and shoving between the two teams, which prompted the game's referees to hand out technical fouls to Curry, Christon, Westbrook, and Draymond Green.

After the game, those who were in the middle of the action were asked about it, and they talked about why the tension between the teams was so high at that particular point in the game. Westbrook said that he was simply trying to protect his teammate.

“Protecting my teammates, that’s what’s going through my mind,” he said. “I think Curry tried to get into it with Semaj, tried to push him, and I stepped right in between. That’s it. Once I see something going down with my teammates, I’m hopping in.”

Curry saw things a little bit differently. While speaking with reporters, he suggested that Christon was the instigator and that he pushed him a couple times before he responded by pushing back. But he also downplayed the scuffle itself and said it wasn’t a big deal.

“Your normal jump ball kind of fight for position situation,” he said. “I was just trying to get in between Russ and—how do you pronounce his last name? Trying to get in between them two. I felt him push me. I kind of let that first one go. Then, I kept going, and there was another little push. And at that point, I just wanted to kind of hold my position. Much ado about nothing after that.”

Green also spoke on the scuffle and laughed when he was asked about getting a technical on the play. Even though he wasn’t directly involved in the shenanigans that started the shoving match, he ended up getting hit with a tech anyway, which didn't surprise him.

“I’m happy you think the same thing I think,” Green said when a reporter asked him about picking up a T on the play. “Jesus Christ. I don’t know. Nothing surprises me at this point when it comes to anything like that. I actually knew it was going to happen, to be honest with you. I didn’t do anything, but I knew it. If I’m anywhere in the area, it’s expected.”

The Warriors and Thunder won’t play again during the regular season. But there’s a chance they could meet in the playoffs. And if they do? Expect the intensity in that series to be through the roof. It might not be all that competitive—Golden State seems to have OKC’s number this season—but it will be fun to watch.

 

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