Brooklyn Nets star James Harden apologized for how his Houston Rockets tenure ended, telling ESPN's Rachel Nichols he felt as though the lead-up to last month's blockbuster trade could have gone smoother.
"I don't like it at all because that's not who I am," Harden said when asked to reflect on the weeks leading up to the trade. "The drama, the extra whatever you want to call it, the negativity for me. I don't really like negative energy. That's draining. So I don't like how it necessarily happened.
"I feel like it could have happened a lot smoother, a lot easier, but it is what it is."
Harden's desire to leave Houston after eight years for a title contender was an open secret in the weeks leading up to the season. He began the year with a $50,000 fine for violating COVID-19 protocols after the league reviewed video of him socializing maskless at a club.
Harden was traded to the Nets the following day.
The former MVP told Nichols he wasn't trying to be selfish and that the "front office knew where I stood and what I wanted."
"Apologize for how it went down, but I guess I had to do what I had to do in order to get to where I wanted to go," Harden said. "And credit to Houston, they didn't necessarily have to trade me to Brooklyn. They could have traded me anywhere, but those are some stand-up guys over there. And it ended up the right way, but just didn't like how that month or two played out."