The Beard is back. No need for justification, no need for any explanation. On June 26, 2019, James Harden returned to Manila with adidas to show his fans how just like him, they too are free to play how they play, free to step back, Free To Harden.
Harden— who arrived in the country on June 25— kicked off his trip by visiting the University of the Philippines where adidas is refurbishing the College of Human Kinetics basketball court. Members of the National Wheelchair Basketball Team and UP Women’s Basketball Team welcomed Harden a short exhibition game. Before coming to Manila, the 2018 NBA Most Valuable Player also visited China as part of his adidas Asia Summer Tour.
On Wednesday, his jam-packed day gave him a glimpse of how basketball-crazy the Philippines is. At the adidas store in Two Parkade, BGC, the Houston Rockets guard met lucky fans who were chosen among hundreds of entries for having the best recreation of his signature Step Back move. He faced the press for a round of questions on the recently concluded NBA season and how adidas has helped him throughout his basketball journey. He was greeted by excited Filipino fans upon arriving at the main event— the Free To Harden Freestyle Hub, which was held in the SMX Convention Center. Through the various games done onstage like Beard On, Beard Off and the Fast Talk questions, Harden got to show another side of him to his excited fans. Along with some lucky fans, local adidas basketball Creators like Kobe Paras, Jjay Alejandro, and Rey Nambatac among others also had the chance to interact and impress the seven-time NBA All-Star through basketball challenges like the BEARD game— based on the HORSE game.
“At adidas, we believe we have the power to change lives through sports. And Harden’s visit— with the incredibly warm welcome he received from ecstatic fans, we saw this to be true. His journey in becoming the player he is today is truly an inspiration to his Filipino fans,“ shared adidas Philippines Brand Communications and Sports Marketing Manager Jen Dacasin.
Harden— who has shown his creativity from high school courts to the big arena to become the NBA superstar he is today— redefines the game by embodying creativity on and off court.
“It’s great being back in the Philippines and I’m thankful to adidas and my fans for the warm welcome. I’m already looking forward to my next trip back here,” Harden said.
Harden is set to fly out of Manila on June 27, 2019.