James Harden's beard is internationally known.
Harden's dating a rap star, or was the last time I checked.
Harden just made the U.S. Olympic basketball team.
Not bad for a guy who doesn't even start. Not bad for a guy who doesn't even start for a team in Oklahoma City.
No wonder Harden expressed a desire to stay with the Thunder, provided the price is close to right. The NBA's smallest market doesn't seem to be cramping the style of Harden or any of his mates.
Kevin Durant is making movies. Russell Westbrook is setting fashion trends. Harden is living large.
Turns out the world really is getting smaller. You don't have to be on the stage in Los Angeles to turn heads in L.A. Don't have to play in New York to get noticed in the world's other Gothams.
Remember when we all thought the biggest problem for Oklahoma City in the NBA would be convincing young, rich stars to play here? Turns out, that's the least of Thunder problems.
Paying all the guys who want to be here is the dilemma. Ray Allen, Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry. The Thunder would have had a decent chance of landing any of the veterans seeking a championship as their careers wind down, except there just wasn't a roster spot.
Who would ever have guessed that Oklahoma City could have too many good players.
The Thunder has four Olympians; all have either signed with OKC long-term (Durant, Westbrook) or want to (Harden, Serge Ibaka). Now it's the Thunder's job to figure out how to afford them.
Turns out, it's the franchise, not the players, that needs a bigger market.
Dwight Howard might want to desperately be in Brooklyn, but every other NBA star doesn't seem to care what city he plays in, he cares about who else is on his roster.
So lack of a beach, or lack of bright lights, or even lack of an airport hub, seems to be no impediment to NBA success. Salt Lake City showed us that. Then San Antonio. Now OKC.
Harden referred to himself as an “icon” the other day at Olympic hoop headquarters in Las Vegas. He wasn't being haughty, just honest. Despite a miserable NBA Finals, Harden made his mark league-wide during the Thunder's 20 playoff games, averaging 16.3 points. He even manned up and showed a willingness to defend the likes of Kobe Bryant (with some success) and LeBron James (not so much).
Harden's newfound stardom will drive up his price tag. But don't blame the Olympic berth. That's merely a symptom of his status, not the cause.
Harden, who until Oct. 31 can sign a contract extension but otherwise will become a restricted free agent next summer, was going to be a plum either way.
The Suns last week offered Eric Gordon a virtual maximum contract -- $58 million over four years — and no reason to think Harden wouldn't get the same. The Olympic selection committee has declared its preference for Harden over Gordon, but truthfully, anyone watching Harden improve exponentially from year to year already knew Harden's worth was at least equal to that of Gordon.
If Harden wants $14.5 million a year to play basketball, he can get it. And even if he's willing to take the hometown discount, that's rising, too, maybe as high as $12 million or more.
If Harden leaves the Thunder, it will be over money, not the city, and who would have thought it?