GQ / Erik Madigan Heck

Houston Rockets superstar James Harden has had a solid year so far — leading his team into the 2018 NBA Playoffs as the number one seed, being voted as the best dressed player during All-Star Weekend by fans, and now receiving his first-ever GQ cover (May 2018 issue).

For his inaugural cover story, the historic fashion publication draped Harden in a variety of colorful steez, and delved into a few topics like dethroning the Golden State Warriors, his impeccable skills on the court, what it’s like eating with a long beard during blind dates, what NBA moms talk about, and many more.

On his approach to being great.

JH: “It’s not gonna happen overnight. The more you work, the more you figure out how to be great. Just keep adjusting, keep adapting.. Our goal is to be the best. Not the best who’s out right now, but the best. You know, longevity.”

On making it back to the NBA Finals since 2012.

JH: “Ever since then, I’ve been tryna get back, get back, get back.. came close, but just didn’t have enough talent. Until now. Different story.”

On being the best at slowing the game down, when everyone in the league is trying to go faster.

JH: “No—stopping, That’s why it’s so hard to guard me—because I’m able to get you off-balance, use my body, then stop on a dime and still get my shot. That’s tough, you know?”

On his signature move of breaking down the defense.

JH: “It’s just God-given, you know? I can’t sit here and tell you, ‘I worked on that.’ You have to be in that moment and have this brain to know how to figure it out.”

On growing up in Compton.

JH: [It was] “rough, dirty.. Just wasn’t the safest place, you know? Gangs and distractions. A lot of people that weren’t trying to be successful.”

On forming a partnership with Trolli since he was a big fan of the candy brand when growing up.

JH: “It’s a match made in heaven,” Harden says his creative process with Trolli is: Trolli comes up with some bonkers idea “and they bring it to me, and then they’re like, ‘Oh, I don’t think he would do that—it’s just too crazy.’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.'”

On taking pride that his career has enabled his mother to have an NBA life of her own.

JH: “My mom—she hangs out with, like, moms of other players that I don’t even talk to… There are mom meetings, things like that.. I’m serious. Mom meetings. That makes me happy, ’cause they get to talk about their sons behind our backs. She deserves that.”

On the perils of having a long beard for his bachelor life.

JH: “I get food in this shit all the time, like, all the time. If it’s people that I don’t know, I won’t eat around ’em. When I’m, like, going on blind dates, I’ll wait till I get around people I actually am comfortable around, because then they’ll tell me I have stuff in my beard. It kinda comes with it. If you wanna look as good as I do.”

On the type of dates he goes to since technically, people now who he is.

JH: “I don’t know—first, second, third time hangin’ out with somebody. Not random. Just a dinner or something.”

On his maximalist style and judging his fits for the GQ photoshoot.

JH: “That’s one of those outfits where, you know, it’ll go on Instagram and guys will be like, ‘What the heck is he wearing?’ Most guys wouldn’t do that. Most guys don’t want that attention.”

On reminiscing about his past three years.

JH: “I don’t think there’s a player that’s had to create as much as I’ve had to in these last three years.. I don’t know if there’s a guy in NBA history… I didn’t play well, It is what it is… Be better.”

On having two MVP awards by now, if the vote was by the players and not journalists.

JH: “You guys are all crazy.. It is a huge gap. And that’s what confuses me, because it’s, like, the guys that I’m actually out there on the court competing against—and probably don’t even like me—are just like, ‘Okay, he deserves it.'”

For the full story, head on over directly to GQ.

Now, in case you missed it, Y-3 launched its James Harden–inspired capsule worldwide.

Words by Renz Ofiaza
Staff Writer

scribbling by day, architect by night

What To Read Next