When the Oklahoma City Thunder drafted James Harden No. 3 overall in the 2009 NBA Draft, most scouts thought he would become a solid sixth man on an up-and-coming team.
But in the 2012 Western Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs, Harden carried the Thunder back from a 2-0 deficit and vaulted them into the Finals where they eventually lost the to the Miami Heat.
Along with Harden, Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Serge Ibaka, that Thunder team looked primed to make multiple Finals appearances and become one of the league’s best teams.
But, in one of the most bizarre trades in NBA history, Harden was dealt to the Houston Rockets in the following offseason.
On the Rockets, Harden was given an increased role and has become a perennial MVP candidate and now, one of the league’s highest paid players.
No longer is he just a kid from Compton with a sweet lefty jumper and a lethal Eurostep: Harden is now the owner of the richest contract in NBA history.
Last weekend, Harden signed a four-year contract extension worth $160 million, guaranteeing the former Arizona State star a whopping $228 over the next six years.
In 2015, Harden signed a 13 year, $200 million dollar sneaker deal with Adidas. Harden is cashing those damn checks. Harden has come a long way from his days at Artesia High School.
He is now a fixture in the “Calabasas Crew,” having dated Khloe Kardashian and been spotted at events with Kanye West and Justin Bieber, Harden and his signature beard have become top-tier celebrities.
Now, the pressure is on Harden to live up to his enormous contract. But the kid from Compton shouldn’t worry, all these extra M’s are just gravy at this point.