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Video: James Harden appears to take savage dig at Giannis Antetokounmpo

James Harden, Rockets, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

Houston Rockets star James Harden defended his reputation in a recent interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, responding to some of the hearsay about him. Among the questions, Harden was asked his thoughts on Giannis Antetokounmpo choosing to go with Kemba Walker instead of him during the All-Star Draft because he needed someone “who can pass.”

The Rockets star was pretty blunt:

“I average more assists him than him, I think,” said Harden. “I don’t see what the joke is.

“I didn’t even see it. I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I just know none of them can mess with me.”

That is true, in fact. Harden is ninth in the league in assists with 7.3 per game, while Walker is 37th with an even 5.0 per game.

Yet Antetokounmpo was likely referring to Harden’s play style, a high-usage, isolation-heavy style that often has him dominating the ball. Walker has three other cogs he can trust in Boston and is more likely to pass the ball than keep it in an All-Star Game — yet even that train of thought doesn’t validate picking Walker over a former MVP.

Harden saved the real haymaker for the last round, though, picking up where Rockets general manager Daryl Morey left off, claiming “being different is not appreciated until it works.” Harden included an apparent jab at Giannis:

“When it’s all said and done, they will appreciate it more,” said Harden. “But I wish I could just run and be 7 feet and just dunk. Like that takes no skill at all (laughs).

“I had to actually learn how to play basketball and how to have skill, you know? I take that any day.”

Harden and Antetokounmpo battled for last season’s MVP trophy, a loss The Beard took to heart after leading the league in scoring for the second straight year.

The Rockets guard is once again leading the league with an impressive scoring barrage and is surely not taking any slander from The Greek Freak, Charles Barkley, or anyone else who is daring to question his scoring antics.