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Now starring: James Harden

Originally Published: November 28, 2012
By Justin Verrier | ESPN.com

The ascent took time. Before the league honors and co-starring roles next to Kate Upton, before the mounds and mounds of free throws and, yes, even before that wonderful facial hair, there was baby fat to be shed, a lazy streak to lose, a tentativeness to curb.

The talent was there; that discovery came before the ability to dunk. But James Harden's rise from an asthmatic high school unknown to off-the-bench wunderkind on one of the biggest forces in American sports was a process. ...

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