James Harden is fed up with those who deride his abilities and overlook the unique challenges he faces - the double-teams, triple-teams, and half-court traps - as one of the league's preeminent offensive threats.
ESPN's Rachel Nichols asked the Houston Rockets guard about the negative perceptions surrounding his style of play, specifically citing a recent back-and-forth between TNT analyst Charles Barkley and Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo that poked fun at Harden's ball dominance:
"I don't see what the joke is, but I didn't even see it. I don't pay attention to stuff like that," Harden told Nichols. "I just know that none of them can mess with me."
Harden, who's averaging 35.2 points and 7.3 assists per game and is on track for his third-straight scoring title, believes his critics will eventually come to hold his play in higher esteem.
"When it's all said and done, they'll appreciate it more," said Harden. "But I wish I could just run - and was seven-feet (tall) - and run and just dunk. Like, that takes no skill at all. I've got to actually learn how to play basketball and how to have skill, you know? I take that any day."
There's little doubt which player Harden had in mind: Antetokounmpo is listed at 6-foot-11, and he ranks third in the NBA with 155 made dunks, according to Basketball-Reference.
The two have become foils in recent years thanks in part to a tight MVP race during the 2018-19 season. The Greek Freak finished in first place in the voting with a 93.2% share of the MVP votes; Harden placed second with a 76.8% share despite posting the highest single-season scoring average since Michael Jordan.
"If you named the top-five players that are getting double-teamed around the league, there's going to be notice," Harden said. "People are going to say, 'Oh, he's getting double-teamed ... he sees a trap at half court every single night.' Like, nobody's mentioning that (right now), you know?
"I'm not the type to go out there and say it or broadcast it. I'm just going to try to go out there and win games. That's what I'm trying to do."