So what’s the secret to Harden’s success, in which he’s been able to thrive even while adding more responsibilities than ever as the focal point of Houston’s attack? To hear him tell it, the key was subtracting something from his life.
Namely, Khloe Kardashian.
Harden had been dating the 32-year-old reality-TV superstar for much of last season. In a lengthy profile published Tuesday by Sports Illustrated, the five-time all-star talked about how he had to “eliminate” the circus-like atmosphere that the Kardashians generate, for the benefit of both himself and his teammates. Here is the pertinent passage:
“I’m not worried about anything but hooping,” says Harden, 27, “and that may be why I’m having this kind of success.”
The process of untangling a crowded life began a year ago, when he and Khloe broke up after an eight-month romance, which began with a meeting at Kanye West’s basketball-themed birthday party at Staples Center in June. Harden does not reference Khloe but reflects on the tabloid apparatus that accompanies her. “I didn’t like all the attention,” he says.
“I feel like it was for no reason. I wasn’t getting anything out of it except my name out there and my face out there, and I don’t need that. It wasn’t uncomfortable, but it wasn’t me.
I don’t need pictures of myself when I’m driving my car. Who cares? What shoes am I wearing? Who cares? Where am I eating? Who cares? It was unnecessary stuff that I think trickled down to my teammates. I had to eliminate that.”