Houston Rockets point guard James Harden has reportedly declined a record-setting payday with his current team, because owner Tilman Fertitta is a Republican Trump supporter.
Harden allegedly rejected an offer for an astonishing $50 million a year to extend his three-year contract with the Rockets. The massive pay bump would have made him the first NBA player to ever earn such an astronomical salary in the league’s history.
The Rocket’s guard currently rakes in nearly $38.3 million a year, just trailing the current highest paid player, Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry, who brings in just over $40.2 million annually.
For Harden, money is apparently not the issue, a championship and politics are. The star player is reportedly seeking a trade to the Brooklyn Nets, where powerhouses Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are trying to recruit him to their super team.
But playing for a ring isn’t Harden’s only motivation to move on, according to “The Odd Couple” sports podcast. NBA reporter Ric Bucher initially thought Harden was seeking a new home because of the Rocket’s diminishing talent level, but found out the baller is dissatisfied that the owner is a Trump donor.
“We know how much politics and political position had to do with the boycott and protests during the Bubble — I’m hearing that Tilman Fertitta’s strong Republican support and donations is one of the things that is contributing to this dissatisfaction,” Bucher remarked.
Fertitta donated more than $100k to Republican organizations in 2020, with three separate $35,000 contributions to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican National Committee, and the “Trump Victory” campaign.
After a heavily politicized season plagued by Black Lives Matter protests and player boycotts, it’s unsurprising that liberal players would rebel against a conservative team owner. Russell Westbrook, who currently is the second highest player in the NBA, has also requested a trade.
“[Westbrook and Harden] are not the only ones to want out of Houston,” Bucher noted. “Lesser players are of the same mind. There is a revolt here because they look at Fertitta as a guy who supports the current President.”