Brooklyn Nets’ James Harden hopes Houston Rockets fans will show ‘love’ on his return


As James Harden prepares to face his former team for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the superstar guard reflected on his eight-year tenure with the Houston Rockets and said that when he enters Houston’s Toyota Center on Wednesday for the night (7:30 pm ET on ESPN), expect to be “greeted with love.”

“The love and appreciation that I have given to that city and that I still give to that city, I hope the favor can be returned,” Harden told ESPN in a comprehensive interview.

There were tense months before the four-team deal on January 13 that sent Harden to Brooklyn, his preferred destination.

In July, Harden turned down a two-year, $ 103 million contract extension offer from the Rockets, making it clear that he felt the franchise window to compete for a championship had closed. Houston’s front office hoped to repair the relationship and convince Harden that the Rockets could still be competitive, but Harden never wavered, reiterating his desire for an exit. When the Rockets started training camp, photos surfaced on social media of Harden partying in Atlanta and Houston.

“I thought I would never leave that franchise,” Harden said. “I thought I was going to be in Houston, obviously, for the rest of my career. Things happened. I have different goals and I’ve seen a different vision for myself, my career and my family.”

He continued: “Like I said, it doesn’t change the fact of how I feel about the city. But it just didn’t go as well, as well, as I had planned. Communication between me and the main office got a little shaky. And now I look back and I see these other scenarios, other situations that are happening, specifically around other players that are in Houston, in different sports. And their transition is going very well. like this. I am where I am now. “

Harden added that he is “very, very happy and excited” about the direction the Nets have taken since his arrival, reiterating that he wishes the Rockets franchise the best.

Eventually, the Rockets plan to retire James Harden’s No. 13 jersey. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta told the Houston Chronicle that “James Harden will always be a Rocket.”

Now, Harden is returning to Houston as the city, and its surrounding areas, were devastated by a winter storm that left millions without power or heat as temperatures dropped. The storm caused some families to run out of food and others to flee to emergency shelters.

Harden said he has been on the phone every day to help Houston residents. Through his new restaurant, “Thirteen,” he shipped 3,000 meals to Houstonians. Harden said he has sent boxes of water to the city and is working with plumbers to provide assistance to those whose pipes have frozen and burst.

“I feel like I’m part of the community,” Harden said. “Now that I’m in Brooklyn, it hasn’t changed how I feel about that city and everything it’s done for me. So whether it’s trying to feed as many people as I can, get water, as much water as I can for him. people who need it. “

Since arriving in Brooklyn, Harden has thrived, averaging 25.1 points, 8.4 rebounds and 11.1 assists for the Nets. Harden has played in 21 total games for Brooklyn and has finished with a triple-double in seven of them. Only Jason Kidd has had more in a single season in Nets history.

Still, Harden’s Nets big three Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving have played just seven games together.

“I’m excited that we as a whole can play as many games as we can together because the potential that we have is very, very scary,” Harden said. “We are still doing whatever it takes to get victories … The potential will be scarier when [Durant] comes back. But for now, we are putting up with it and coming together as a team. “

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