After a month and a half since being traded to Brooklyn, 2018 league MVP James Harden made his return to the Toyota Center in his first game as a member of the Nets.
As expected, the Rockets franchise gave their former star, who brought them to the Western Conference Finals twice, a tribute video which showed his best highlights during his nine-year stint.
However, despite the beautiful tribute, it didn’t stop Harden from reminding Houston about what he does best.
In front of the 3,615 that had mixed reactions in his return, the nine-time All-Star dropped an efficient triple-double performance to lead a blowout 132-114 win.
Harden contributed 29 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists and three steals on 10 of 15 shooting from the field.
This is now Harden’s eighth triple-double this season, something that the Rockets fans were used to seeing him do.
After the game, Harden expressed his thoughts on his return to Houston during the post-game press conference.
“It’s a little weird being on the opposing side but once I got on the court, I was just locked in and that’s just who I am as a basketball player,” he said during the interview.
“Playing in Houston, a lot of mixed emotions from the fans but I knew that’s gonna happen and I just wanted to come out here and give them a show,” he added.
Earlier this week, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta revealed that Harden’s number 13 will be retired later this season. This will make him the seventh player to have his jersey retired in the franchise.
Harden will join a great list of players with Calvin Murphy (23), Moses Malone (24), Hakeem Olajuwon (34), Rudy Tomjanovich (45), Clyde Drexler (22) and Yao Ming (11).
The three-time scoring champion shared that he found about it on the internet and said that he hopes that despite not winning a title, he was able to do something right.
“My reaction was hopefully I did something right. Obviously, I came up short with a championship but the work that I put in all those past few years was elite. And I think that’s the only thing that I didn’t do which was to win a championship,” he said.
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