The mentality that scored James Harden a $228 million extension: 'Just keep going'

James Harden attends the 2017 NBA Awards.
Gonzalo Marroquin | Getty Images

James Harden recently signed the biggest contract extension in NBA history. The high-scoring point guard's current contract with the Houston Rockets is good for two more years, and after signing a four-year extension, he is guaranteed to make $228 million through the 2022-2023 season.

Throughout his rise to the top he's followed a simple rule: Always bounce back.

Harden came from humble beginnings. He was raised by a single mother of three in Compton, California. He tells ESPN his hometown is a place "you're not supposed to make it out of" where "the odds are against you."

When Harden made the varsity basketball team at Artesia High School as a freshman, he struggled with asthma. Despite this condition, he improved his fitness, and was recruited by top programs like UCLA and Arizona State University.

James Harden
Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

Harden has continued to persevere through challenges in his professional career. He overcame a surprising trade from the Oklahoma City Thunder to the Houston Rockets in 2012, adjusted to an entirely new position in 2016 and navigated the mega-watt spotlight that comes with dating a Kardashian.

This season, Harden was the runner-up for the Most Valuable Player Award and averaged 29.1 points, 11.2 assists and 8.1 rebounds a game.

Harden tells Sean Gregory at Time Magazine that the most powerful tool to overcome challenges in any kind of environment is to "always have a positive mindset."

"Bad things happen," he explains. "Do you bounce back now? Or do you just stay down there and allow it to take you down?"

James Harden
Ronald Martinez | Getty Images

The secret, Harden says, to maintaining forward momentum and bouncing back from failure is to avoid what he describes as "compounding mistakes."

"You make a mistake, OK, don't compound one mistake with two mistakes," Harden says. "Having a bad day? OK, tomorrow is going to be a better day. Like, we all have bad days in life, no matter what job you're in. Don't let it compound. The next day is going to be better."

This kind of positivity, he says, allows you to learn from your mistakes and continue to grow.

Simply put: "Just keep going, just keep going, just keep going."

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