America fat shames disgruntled star
America thinks James Harden has pulled off the wrong kind of body transformation this off-season.
The NBA star returned to the court for Houston in a pre-season game against San Antonio on Wednesday (AEDT) and it didn't take the internet long to notice he was looking slightly different.
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Harden is in the midst of a messy contract stand-off with the Rockets after the team fell apart spectacularly in 2020, and was spotted by fans enjoying Las Vegas strip clubs earlier this month when he was supposed to be in camp with his squad.
Harden has three seasons still to run on his $180 million deal but wants out, reportedly demanding a trade to the Brooklyn Nets to set up a super team with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
After his latest outing, some basketball fans suggested - tongue in cheek - the 31-year-old may have let himself go to force Houston to trade him, as it seemed like he'd put on a few kilos.
Sports reporter Mike Catalana suggested Harden looked more like Santa, tweeting: "Is this James Harden or the guy coming down the chimney next week?"
we're overreacting to player empowerment bc the james harden "ill eat until you trade me" move is clearly an outlier— ☕netw3rk (@netw3rk) December 16, 2020
Breaking News: James Harden and his Hips demand to be traded.— SYDNEY CASTILLO (@sydneyisfunny) December 16, 2020
Former NBA star Kendrick Perkins, who last played in2018, was trending on social media during the game and joined in the reaction to Harden's body shape.
However, many fans called for the comedians on social media to stop. Sean Yoo of The Ringer tweeted: "It's crazy that all the people on my timeline who have fat shamed James Harden are extremely out of shape."
Harden missed the Rockets' first two pre-season games after arriving late to training camp and drained 12 points against the Spurs to go with three rebounds and four assists.
Houston coach Stephen Silas said: "He was good. I mean, he's obviously a great player and can do so many things on the floor, on and off the ball.
"Defensively, he has great hands and makes plays and is smart. So to have him out there was great."
Houston recruit John Wall played a straight bat to questions about Harden's desire to leave the Rockets when quizzed about his teammate post-game.
"I don't try to ask him about that because that's his personal business," Wall said. "All I worry about is what we can do to make this Rockets team the best that we can be while everybody is here and move forward with that."
Originally published as America fat shames disgruntled NBA star