• Brooklyn Nets star James Harden (L) and South East Melbourne Phoenix point guard Keifer Sykes (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
Globetrotting South East Melbourne Phoenix guard Keifer Sykes opened up to Megan Hustwaite about the Forbes article that labelled him the 'James Harden of China' during the latest episode of the new SBS series, Courtside 1v1.
By
Finn Potter

18 Feb 2021 - 7:21 PM  UPDATED 18 Feb 2021 - 7:23 PM

WATCH TAB Courtside 1v1 on SBS with Megan Hustwaite weekly on Thursday from 7 pm (AEDT) via SBS Sport on Twitter, or catch up via SBS On Demand, or at the top of this article.

The 27-year-old Chicago native has racked up a truly global basketball resume in his six-year career, playing for pro teams in Korea, Turkey, Italy and Greece before finding a home with the Phoenix for the 2020-21 NBL season.

But it was Sykes' 2019 season at the Guangzhou Loong Lions in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) that brought him the most recognition, thanks to a Forbes article comparing him to prolific NBA guard Harden, currently a member of the Brooklyn Nets.

The article, titled 'Keifer Sykes is the James Harden of China' chronicled Sykes' outstanding performances for the Lions, in which he was leading the league in scoring with an average of 34.6 points per game and had posted a 50-point outing at the time the piece was written.

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Sykes told Megan Hustwaite how it felt to be compared to the NBA All-Star and 2018 MVP.

"The James Harden of China came from last season, around Thanksgiving time," Sykes said.

"They just did this big Forbes article where they said I was the James Harden of China, due to my efficiency, my rankings in points and assists, and rebounds.

"I was one of the top players there. So I mean, I'll take that any day, he was the MVP of the league!"

Currently averaging 17 points and 7 assists per game with the Phoenix, Sykes also spoke about his admiration for the NBL and its' style of basketball and how he's enjoyed playing down under so far.

"It's just a beautiful league," Sykes said of the NBL. "I've been wanting to play here for a while, I'm happy I made the decision.

"I like the style here in the NBL, it's more free-flowing.

"There's a lot of different scoring from a lot of different guys.

"There's not top-heavy teams where only a certain amount of players can play at a high level, all Australians can play so the league's competitive.

"All the teams are tough, so every game is a good game."

The interview was the latest as part of the new SBS series, TAB Courtside 1v1, hosted by Megan Hustwaite, giving fans a chance to get to know more about the unique personalities from the NBA, WNBA, NBL and WNBL, which help shape basketball in Australia.

Hustwaite, who has been covering all levels of Australian basketball for the past 13 years as a reporter, commentator and journalist, will helm the weekly show - every Thursday at 7 pm (AEDT) - where she interviews stars of the past, present and future.

Sykes discussed numerous topics with Hustwaite, including the following:
0:46 - Initiation to the NBL
2:04 - Seeing Australia while being on the road with SEM to start the season
2:58 - Being on the road has allowed the team to gel
3:36 - Why he wanted to play in Australia
4:52 - Style of the NBL compared to leagues in Europe and China
5:35 - First game and win at home vs Hawks
6:16 - Excitement around the NBL Cup
7:40 - Chi-Town - the documentary about him
9:15 - His upbringing in Chicago
10:45 - The influence of his late father James
12:18 - His foundation and the work it does for the community
13:48 - His NBA dream
15:14 - ‘’James Harden of China tag’’ and where it came from
15:52 - Phoenix’s play-offs hopes
16:20 - Returning next year

SBS is broadcasting multiple regular-season NBA games per week in HD on SBS VICELAND and streamed live via SBS On Demand. Plus, every game of the 2020-21 NBL season is LIVE, FREE and in HD via SBS On Demand, with select games also live on SBS VICELAND.

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