We had an appointment with him for an exclusive interview this Friday morning in a large Parisian palace. But at the last moment, James Harden, the most famous basketball bearded, MVP (best player) 2018 NBA and 2012 Olympic champion decided to go to train in Levallois.
Present in the capital as part of the "Take on Summer Paris 2019", organized by "Adidas France", the star of the Houston Rockets has shifted the interview in the afternoon and has granted us with a smile several minutes exceptional in the largest "Adidas" store in the world on the Champs.
What opinion do you have of France?
JAMES HARDEN. It is a beautiful country, one of the most beautiful in the world. At home, life seems cool and I like it. Culture and history breathe on every street corner and it's beautiful. I love coming to France and I do not say that because I'm here to please you. It's the truth.
James Harden, NBA star, meets young basketball players
And Paris, do you like?
How not to love this city? Wherever you look up, you come across a magnificent monument. When you turn them down, you find a restaurant where you eat heavenly. I love your kitchen, one of the best in the world. How do you expect, with all this, that I'm not in love? It's a happiness.
This is your favorite city in the world?
Definitely. I say it very honestly. There is an energy here, vibrations that can not be found anywhere else.
What is your favorite French dish?
There are so many: how to choose one? I also have two or three restaurants that I love in Paris and where I go often. I also came here with my little sister who is celebrating her birthday and I planned to invite her to one of them. Of course, I will not tell you which one. It's my little secret.
What is your favorite Parisian monument?
Eiffel Tower ! I never get tired of seeing her. The night with the lights or when it sparkles, it's a marvel. My little sister, always she had never seen it before and I was happy to take her there. It was his main wish when I told him that I took him with me to Paris. Me, I am already mounted but not her.
Have you ever had a holiday in Paris incognito?
Yes absolutely, without anyone knowing anything. I came especially for fashion week and it was pretty cool. When I come out of professional appointments, I try to stay quiet without showing myself to enjoy the good time.
Fans have queued for hundreds of meters to see you. You thought you were waiting too?
Not really. They are excited at the idea of seeing me and I am also excited about them. It's nice. Feeling their love for me is something very strong. When I'm on the field in the NBA, I'm not aware of that. Really realizing it is a comfort for the whole season.
Do you have special relationships with the ten or so French players who play in the NBA ?
Not more or less than with other players. I have it especially with my partners in Houston and I stay focused on them and me (NB: Houston is the last NBA team to have never recruited a French player).
These French NBA are they good?
Of course. They are all and deserve their place. More importantly, they are growing year by year.
Could a Frenchman be crowned MVP (best player) of the NBA one day?
Why not ? It is possible of course. You already have the best defender with Rudy Gobert who is an amazing player. It is on track for this to happen someday. We'll see when.
Europeans with the Greek Antetokoúnmpo take power in the NBA. What does it inspire you?
I've always said that the best players come from different countries, not just from the United States. It's a good thing: it mixes the cultures and approaches of our sport. The best player in the world (Antetokoúnmpo) comes from Greece. Who would have thought it a few years ago?
Have you followed the Women's World Cup in France and the American victory?
A little yes, but by far I admit it because I was pretty busy during this period. I am proud, of course, of the American victory. Like all Americans.
You play a little football?
On video console, yes (laughs). I was made to try at the beginning of the week in London: even for an empty purpose, I did not manage to score. I did well, I think, to choose basketball.
In France, when we think of you, we think of your beard first. How do you like it ?
It's like that everywhere. People are watching me and saying "Ah yes, I know him, he's the basketball player with his beard. That's not what I looked for by letting it grow, but that's fine.
Did you find a good barber in Paris?
No. But I did not look either.