As he spoke and the speaker above cut in and out, Gilgeous-Alexander balanced between a player who knows he belongs and one who understands he has plenty to learn. “I am not Russell Westbrook,” Gilgeous-Alexander said with no malice. “I do not have the same name, same body type, stuff like that. So, I’m just going to try to be myself and be the best me and everything else will take care of itself. “I’m just a basketball player. Regardless of the situation, I’m going to continue to work hard and play my game. I know that eventually it will come out. I don’t worry about starting. I’m not worried about accolades or things like that. I just work hard, keep my head down and (stay) true to who I am.”
As Oklahoma City nears a rebuild, the hope is that Gilgeous-Alexander will be an integral part of whatever rises from its teardown, the first foundational piece of the Thunder’s next era. These are new expectations for him. He seemed on Thursday as unfazed by them as by that PA call for Ms. Harrington. “I am not Russell Westbrook,” said Gilgeous-Alexander, whose easy demeanor with reporters underscored the point. “We do not have the same name, same body type, nothing like that. I’m just gonna try to be myself and be the best me. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Eventually, though, the expectation — at least from the outside — is that the Thunder one day will be Gilgeous-Alexander’s team, the way they once were Westbrook’s. Despite that connection, the youngster and and the former MVP have precious little in common beyond their position and eye for eclectic fashion. “He’s done obviously a lot of great things for the city and the organization,” Gilgeous-Alexander said. “Set the bar pretty high. But I’m not trying to chase his achievements or anything like that. He’s just done a great job and deserves to be commended for it.”
James Harden performed remarkably well last season after a slow start, scoring 36.1 points per game. That’s the highest-scoring season in a long time, but it wasn’t enough to win MVP. Instead, that title went to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had an equally monstrous season. During a recent interview on 97.9 The Box, Harden shared his thoughts on why he lost out to Giannis. When it was suggested that “politics” played a part, Harden agreed.
Storyline: MVP Race
“I think once the media, they create a narrative about somebody from the beginning of the year, I think they just take that narrative and run with it the entire year,” Harden explains at the six-minute mark of the interview. “I don’t want to get into details. But all I can do is control what I can do, and I went out there and did what I was supposed to do at a high level. You know what I’m saying?”
As for his impressive performance throughout the last NBA season, Harden added, “The season, there’s probably only a few seasons where anybody’s ever done that before.” He continued, “People were tuned in onto how many points that I was going to score the next game.” For 30 games in a row, Harden scored 30 or more points, making it the second-longest streak behind Wilt Chamberlain’s 65-game streak in ’61-’62.