OKC Thunder: James Harden's light far from dimmed by OKC

If he leaves after next season, it will be over money, not because he's having exposure issues in a small market
by Berry Tramel Modified: July 10, 2012 at 12:01 am •  Published: July 9, 2012


photo - OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER NBA BASKETBALL / MUG: Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) speaks during a press conference at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center in Oklahoma City,  Saturday, June 23, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER NBA BASKETBALL / MUG: Oklahoma City's James Harden (13) speaks during a press conference at the Integris Health Thunder Development Center in Oklahoma City, Saturday, June 23, 2012. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

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.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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