"Best basketball player in the world" is one of those abstract claims that's hard to quantify.
Is it the current MVP? The guy with the most rings? The alpha dog on All-Star Weekend?
Is it the guy who would be picked first today in a pickup game for world domination? And if that's the case, who in the heck would that be, and why?
Whatever your process, Houston Rockets star James Harden has the answer.
Harden informed Time magazine as such in a recent interview, saying, "for sure," when asked if he was.
He goes on.
"I feel like I’m solid in everything: IQ, studying the game, I can score the basketball, make my teammates better. There are not a lot of guys that have all those characteristics in one," Harden said in the piece. "They might be way more athletic, can shoot the ball way better. But everything solid in one human body?
"You can ask all those top guys who the best player is, of course they are going to say themselves. Because as a basketball player you’re confident in your craft. It’s not taking shots at anybody. It’s a confidence."
Now, let's be clear, Harden is not the best basketball player in the world. But he's in the group of five or so who don't sound completely ridiculous when they say it, and that's a special place to be.
(For ridiculousness, he lets his beard handle that.)
LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world, and if it's not him (which it is), then maybe it's Kevin Durant. Or Stephen Curry. But Harden might be next on the "guys-who-aren't-LeBron-James-but-won't-get-laughed-off-for-claiming-he's-best-player" list.
Harden may be the favorite right now for MVP at the All-Star break (again, not to be confused with "best player in the world). He's starting for the Western Conference alongside Curry and Durant against James and the East on Sunday night.
After moving to point guard this season for coach Mike D'Antoni, Harden is averaging 29.2 points, 11.3 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game. He has a player-efficiency rating of 27.67.
The "Beard" has been great this season, but must make it happen in the postseason before any claim of "world's best" can be legitimized.
He'll have his chance.