During our stay at adidas HQ in Herzogenaurach we got the chance to interview none other than NBA All-Star James Harden. This is what he had to say about the future of the Rockets, his role in Mike D’Antoni high octane offense and of course where he got idea of his signature “cooking” celebration move.
Interview: Martin Lieser & Robbin Barberan
FIVE: How was your summer?
James Harden: It’s been great! Been traveling, seeing Europe…
FIVE: Staying away from basketball or working on your game?
James Harden: A little bit of both actually. You gotta find the right mix. Of course you have to work on your game constantly, at the same time rest is very important. It’s been a long season.
FIVE: Yet, a lot of NBA players like yourself in the Drew League or Dennis Schröder at the Shut-up-and-play like to play at Pro-Am Tournaments. What’s the attraction?
James Harden: Well, for me personally, I have been playing Pro-Am tournaments since I came into the league. It’s an opportunity to give kids the chance to play against NBA level competition, but also the fans seeing NBA players playing. Not everyone has the means to go to an NBA game, so that’s for them. I mean, it’s right around the corner from them. It’s in the hood, it’s a great environment. It’s real. For the fans and families. And at the same time I can give back to my community. It means a lot.
FIVE: The toll on your body must be substantial though. The long season, basketball in the offseason like Drew League and traveling overseas like now. How do you regenerate?
James Harden: It’s a lot of things that people don’t see. The treatments, the stretching, massages, cold tubes, enough sleep. Things like that. You just try to get as much rest as possible. It’ll be my 8th year in the league and the minutes continue to rack up, but it’s worth it. It’s something I love doing, I love playing basketball, so I don’t even think about it too much.
James Harden: There’s no secret. You just play aggressive. I’m always in attack mode, trying to keep the defenders on their heels. I always try to incoperate new things and new styles into my game. Step back here, Euro-Step there. Always keeping the defense guessing what I’m gonna do next. That definitely helps getting to the free throw line.
FIVE: Did you draw any inspiration from past legends?
James Harden: I’m a fan of the game, so I watch basketball all the time and ever since I can remember. NBA, Euroleague, High School, College. I watch it all. You can always learn some different things from different players and put into your own game. That’s how the game evolved. You watch moves and you try it out. Some of those moves work, some don’t. But that’s what practice in the gym is for in summertime.
FIVE: Did the stirring-the-pot-cooking-motion come from that as well?
James Harden: Yeah, I mean, you hang out with different kinds of people and you see different things, stuff that people do to celebrate a great shot or a nice move. I hit a couple of shots and just kind of randomly did this (does the ‘stirring motion’) and it stuck and converted it onto the NBA court. It basically means you got it going. You’re cookin’. Now I see a lot of kids, a lot of fans doing it. Not only that, they run around with fake beards and a mohawk. It feels good.
FIVE: Okay, let’s talk about the upcoming season. The Rockets look a lot different this year. What’s your take on the ‘new’ Rockets?
… read James Harden’s interesting answer to this question in the FULL interview published in the upcoming FIVE issue 11/2016 (available 14.10.2016)