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June 25, 2018

James Harden

Santa Monica, California

Q. Congratulations. You mentioned it's been a while. There's been some times you were we close. Does it feel worth the wait, and does it feel any different that it was a bit of a wait to now that you got it?
JAMES HARDEN: Well, yeah, I mean, the last four years have been like knocking on the door, knocking on the door. Now the moment is finally here. Just every single year you try to come back and be better than you were the year before, and just to be holding that trophy finally, it means a lot. But it doesn't stop here. We've got a long way to go. But it feels good to have it though.

Q. Congratulations. Can you just talk a little bit about your progression in your career? You talked about it a little bit on stage from Sixth Man to MVP, but it wasn't just that. Sixth Man, traded to the [Houston] Rockets, people questioning could you carry a franchise on your own, coming up short in the MVP. Coming up a little bit short in the playoffs this year and winning MVP. Just your overall progression of you as a player to this point right now?
JAMES HARDEN: Like I just said every single year I try to get better. You figure different things out that didn't work the year before and things that did work the year before and add more to your game every single summer. So being traded to having my own franchise, and you have to figure out how to be a leader as a whole. So it took time, year by year by year. Just these last two years it's probably the most comfortable that I've been playing the game of basketball, and I'm sure you can tell that on the court.

So, like you said, we came up short a little bit this year. In the summer we train and get ready for next year and try to win it.

Q. Can you talk to us about your game and how you personally worked on your individual game to where you got to where you are right now, from the kid at Artesia High School, Arizona State, to where you are right now? What's been the driving force to get you here? Talk about your development?
JAMES HARDEN: My work ethic has always been there, but, you know, like a lot of players are in the gym, just working on a lot of nothing, you know. As time goes on, I'm put in certain situations throughout the course of the season. Last summer I go in the gym and I work on what needs to be worked on. I don't just go in there to waste time. So that's kind of been my mindset in the summer while I'm training and carrying it over to the season. Then that season I forgot what I was great at, figure out things that I could be better at, and try to work on the progression. It's every single year, it doesn't stop.

As we all know, talent gets younger and they get better, so you've got to be able to make sure that you're prepared.

Q. I think a lot of us in here expected you to be up there with the MVP Award. But this was kind of preordained it was going to happen. So you didn't prepare a speech. You said up there you were going off the cuff. Why didn't you prepare something and have something written out you wanted to say?
JAMES HARDEN: Honestly, because I didn't know. You know, I felt like last year I should have won as well, so I didn't see a difference between last year and this year. If I won it, then I was going to go off the top and try to, you know, show my appreciation to everybody helping me along the way. Give respect and pay my dues. Obviously, I knew the importance and the opportunity that the Rockets have given me for these last six or seven years. Obviously family was extremely important. And like I said, to everybody that's helped me, you know, and we'll figure it out.

Q. I've had the pleasure of seeing you develop and grow at the Drew League every summer. You mentioned how summers have been a big part of your development. What was it particularly last summer that kind of inspired this season for you?
JAMES HARDEN: Nothing (laughing). I mean, obviously losing and not holding up that championship at the end of the year. But I'm a workaholic. I work every single day, and not just physically, but mentally as well. So nothing was different. I was in the gym, same teams, locked in, and not worried about the year before. But nothing was different.

Like you said, I play in the Drew League just to humble me. I always remember where I came from and the same thing, I'll play this summer as well.

Q. Definitely can see that the lack of preparation now has not been the case all season long during the regular season for you, regardless of who you had around you, whether it was CP3 [Chris Paul] or anybody else, so congratulations on that. Looking at the next championship run for next year, what pieces do you believe you're going to need to be around you to help get you to the next level?
JAMES HARDEN: We were a half away from the Finals, so I don't think there is a piece that we need to bring in or take away. We're great with what we have, from top to bottom, from the front office to coaching staff to players, personnel. Our main focus is just getting better, getting healthier, and doing what we do. You've got to realize like it's Chris and PJ [Tucker] and Luc [Mbah a Moute] and all those new guys, it's their first year. Look where we got to. Imagine a little bit more time together, it can get pretty scary.

CHRIS PAUL: How many bottles of 42 is Mr. Tad Brown going to have to buy at the next location?

JAMES HARDEN: Couple cases.

Q. I had the pleasure of watching you since you were a rookie and I was a youngin'. What advice do you have for the young guys coming up that are just now entering the draft?
JAMES HARDEN: They're just getting started. They haven't made it yet. A lot of people relax when their name gets called, but there are a lot of guys whose names didn't get called and they're hungry. So the journey is just beginning.

Now you've got to actually maintain it and put in your legacy. That's kind of where my mindset was when I drafted.

I was humbled very quick. Third overall pick [in 2009], I was coming in, thought I was going to be a starter. I had to take a back seat and pull the bench. So that humbled me from the beginning. I continued to work, continued to figure it out, and these guys over here gave me the opportunity of a lifetime.

Q. Will you talk to me about the people who helped you get to where you are now? Whether it's your coaches, whether it's your buddies rebounding the ball, whether it's somebody running laps with you, talk about some of the guys who have helped you be the player, the Most Valuable Player in National Basketball Association?
JAMES HARDEN: Well, I've been blessed and fortunate to have some really, really good coaches. From high school, Scott Pera, to college, Coach Pera as well, and the NBA (Indiscernible) was in Oklahoma City with me. And my coaching staff now. Then I'm truly blessed to have some really, really like great friends, you know?

Good times, bad times, bad games, they're there for me, rebounding, running, their offseason my offseason is their offseason as well. Whatever training I do, whatever workouts I do, they're right there with me. That's what drives me and makes me who I am to continue to be the best player and best person that I know how to be.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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