Oklahoma City Thunder fans can breath again. James Harden has been cleared to play under the NBA's new concussion policy. Harden sustained a concussion after taking a vicious elbow to the head from Laker forward Metta World Peace during a game this past Sunday (April 22).
Harden was cleared Wednesday night before the Thunder took on the Denver Nuggets, and Head Coach Scott Brooks had this to say,
"He's passed all the NBA tests and evaluations for concussions, but we decided as a group to hold him out one more game and give him 24 more hours," Brooks said. "He should be fine. We have recovery practice (Thursday) and our practice Friday."
James Harden is OKC's sixth man and provides a major boost off their bench. Coach Brooks is very happy to have him return and he spoke on Harden's importance to the team.
"You don't win in this league without having your best players," Brooks said. "We can do it for a short period of time. You need your best players. James has had a terrific year. He's been one of the leaders. He's been consistent. He gives us spark, whatever we need off the bench, whether it's scoring, playmaking, defending. He's a really, really good basketball player, and he's helped our team improve this year. We're playing good basketball, and lot is because of James and his style."
Harden's All-Star teammate Kevin Durant is very excited to that he's healthy enough to return as well, especially since Harden helps him out with the scoring load.
"James is a strong person. He's a positive person. He doesn't let anything like that bring him down," Durant said. "If you had seen James yesterday, it was like nothing happened. I'm just worried about his health, and I want to see him on the floor because he means so much to us and means so much to this city. It's tough not to see him right next to me in the locker room. He's on old-school type of guy. ... I'm sure he's ready to play. I'm just looking forward to getting him back."
Lakers forward Metta World Peace has been suspended seven games without pay.