James Harden looks unrecognisable without iconic beard that gave him his nickname
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James Harden looks unrecognisable without iconic beard that gave him his nickname

Nov 16, 2023

James Harden is almost as famous for his beard than his basketball prowess.

The Los Angeles Clippers star sports some of the most impressive facial hair in the NBA, which is why he’s known as ‘The Beard’. But once upon a time the former MVP played completely clean shaven.

A beardless James Harden showcases his skills at a high school basketball camp in 2005

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A beardless James Harden showcases his skills at a high school basketball camp in 2005Credit: Getty

Before he became an NBA superstar, Harden was an up and coming basketball player at Artesia High School in Lakewood, California.

During his high school days, he was invited to play in the 2007 McDonald’s All-American Game where he starred alongside future NBA stars Kevin Love and Michael Beasley.

Fast forward several years and Harden was honing his skills at Arizona State.

Harden averaged 20 points per game in his second season with the Sun Devils as his beard started to take shape. However, at this point of his life, that iconic facial hair was still in its infancy.

Harden’s older brother, Akili Roberson, once joked that Harden initially started growing his beard because he wanted to compete with him.

“To be truthful I think he started growing a beard because he saw mine coming in and he got hair on his face,” Roberson said.

However, the Clippers man disagreed.

“You see his beard? It’s terrible, I didn’t get it from him, I just got it. I didn’t get it from him,” Harden said.

Harden's iconic beard began taking shape during his time with the Sun Devils

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Harden’s iconic beard began taking shape during his time with the Sun DevilsCredit: Getty
It was on show on draft day in 2009

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It was on show on draft day in 2009Credit: Getty

Harden was subsequently drafted third overall by the Oklahoma City Thunder in the 2009 NBA Draft.

His draft day photo showcased just how far he and his beard had come from his high school days.

It was in OKC where both Harden’s NBA career and facial hair really began to take off.

The uniquely skilled guard first made a name for himself as a Sixth Man, while his beard grew a reputation of its own.

“Fear the Beard” became a popular mantra whenever Harden came to town.

The volume on Harden’s facial hair began to increase playing alongside Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, transforming into the impressive entity it is today.

Harden and his famous beard were recently traded to the LA Clippers

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Harden and his famous beard were recently traded to the LA ClippersCredit: Getty

After losing to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in the 2012 NBA Finals, Harden sought a new challenge and a more integral role. He joined the Houston Rockets which changed the trajectory of his career and catapulted him into superstardom.

From that point, Harden has never looked back, with both his resume and beard helping cement his legacy as one of the greats of the modern era.


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