Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley call out Sixers star James Harden

The Philadelphia 76ers swung a big deal with the Brooklyn Nets when they acquired James Harden from the Nets. The future Hall of Famer is a guy who can take games over in the blink of an eye in terms of his scoring and he can also make plays for others. He has made a huge impact in Philadelphia thus far.

However, Harden has a reputation for not showing up in big games whether it’s the regular season or the playoffs, and Thursday was another example of that.

In a huge matchup with the Nets at home in the first matchup between the teams since the deal, Harden only had 11 points on 3-for-17 shooting in a 129-100 loss where Brooklyn led by as many as 36.

Afterward, TNT’s Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley called out Harden for his poor play in big games. O’Neal said:

For the last 5, 6, 7, maybe 10 years, that’s the knock on James. Will he show in the big game? Today’s a big game. You know you publicly said you didn’t want to be third fiddle. You wanted to be here. You wanted to smoke so this is the smoke. Today we’re at the cigar bar. What are you gonna do? We at the cigar bar, we at the Hookah bar, you got to step up. This is a big game. The knock for a long time is you’re not gonna step up and guess what? Charles is right. You haven’t stepped up this is a scary situation because we brought you here for a reason. We need you. If we get to a Game 7 situation which is the big game, you need the big main players to step up and he hasn’t stepped up in a long time.

Barkley added this on Harden:

James got the reputation. He’s struggled in all big games because if you go back and look, even when they were in Houston when they should’ve beat the Golden State Warriors. They were there. They were up until Chris Paul got hurt and Chris was the leader of that team, but James is developing a reputation and it’s fair, James is a terrific player, a great player, but when the lights are the brightest, he has played awful and like I said, the thing about being a great player, you don’t have to play great, you just can’t stink up the join, and he stunk up the joint tonight.

To their points, Harden does have this reputation. In the 2018 Western Conference finals with the Rockets, he shot 5-for-21 in Game 5 of that series and Chris Paul bailed him out. In Game 4 of the 2020 playoffs in Round 2, Harden shot 2-for-11 and he shot 5-for-17 against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 for the Nets in 2021.

This is a reputation that he carries with him and he will have to figure out how to get it done in the big games for the Sixers.

This post originally appeared on Sixers Wire! Follow us on Facebook!


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