James Harden Makes "Incredible Weight" Loss Claim
The 2022-23 NBA season is upon us. James Harden's Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Boston for opening night. And while they eventually went down to the Celtics by nine, SportsIllustrated noted the All-Star guard had a good individual night, logging a team-high 35-points. Harden's performances last season in Brooklyn were, it's fair to say, not vintage Beard. Much was expected of his pairing with center Joel Embiid. Harden's new role as playmaker and facilitator for the seven-footer thrust him into unfamiliar territory, and then when Embiid succumbed to injury in the playoffs, he couldn't quite carry his new team as he had done Houston for so long. Much has been made of Harden's off-court fondness for nightlife and the resulting effect on his weight. At a pre-season presser, he asserted to reporter Derek Bodnar that he'd lost "100 pounds" in the offseason. Of course, he was joking. But Harden has made sacrifices to put Philly in contention. First, spreading his contract to less money over more years to enable GM Daryl Morey to sign more talent; and secondly, showing up svelte for opening day. While the amateur player can only dream of commanding how millions are paid out to them, they can learn something from Harden's new figure.
Strength There's an argument that Harden benefitted from being a little thicc in his Rockets days. Charged with putting up 40 a night, mostly from isolation plays, some bulk would help hold off defenders. However, as Kyle Lowry's fairly bad season for Miami last year proved, a booty won't balance out skipping leg day. Harden told the New York Post ".. for me it’s strengthening my muscles, and gaining more muscle mass — which I’ve always had. It’s just this last year and a half I wasn’t healthy enough to put in the proper work like I’m used to. This summer was huge for me in that aspect of making sure that hill runs and weight lifting were on point." For the amateur player whose game relies on three-pointers and passing, rather than driving and dunking, it's important to work the lower body. Muscle is lighter than fat, so it certainly won't harm your hops either.
Endurance It's a long season. And while Harden won't be tasked with putting the team on his back every night, as he was with Houston, it's still going to be an arduous task. Embiid's injury history is such that he may well be load managed in the regular season. Veteran leadership on offense will be needed at times, as fellow old head PJ Tucker is somewhat of a non-factor in racking up points. Less weight should mean less pressure on the joints and less susceptibility to injury. Industry giant WeightWatchers explain that weight loss plans for men are focused on personalization and finding ways to ensure they're effective around the subject’s lifestyle habits. That's less of an issue for an NBA star with team chefs at beck and call, however, Harden said much of the key to his weight loss was 'proper diet and rest'. That's something we can all try harder to factor in.
Much of Philly's offense this year will involve Embiid clogging up the paint and - if he doesn't have the ball in his own hands - directing defenders away from those who do. 22-year-old Tyrese Maxey was by far the more impressive of Philly's backcourt as they crashed out of the playoffs to Miami last year - and while the Heat didn't give him quite as much defensive attention, that's possibly because Harden was a much easier target to catch. At 33, he won't be putting in the sprint times Maxey does, but it was noticeable that he'd lost a step; that little burst of quickness to enable him to come off a defender. Sluggishness is no good for any amateur athlete; it's particularly noticeable in basketball if you don't have that little burst to get you clear of a bigger defender. Staying light on your feet means staying light.
Can the new shape Harden guide Philly to glory? Stay tuned to Off The Glue for the latest from the city where brotherly love extends to all. Except Ben Simmons. And Jimmy Johnson. And Santa.