In his first game against his former Rockets team, Nets star James Harden registered a triple-double. It marked just the sixth time in NBA history that a player had a triple-double in his first game against his former team, according to Elias Sports.
Harden’s performance — 29 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists — was yet another indicator of his overwhelming impact on his new team. Still, The Beard continues to insist not much has changed between the Rockets-era version of himself and this Nets-era version — especially when it comes to leadership. He even went as far as taking a shot at his critics in hammering home the point after Brooklyn’s 132-114 win on Wednesday.
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Harden Doesn’t Hold Back
Harden has been praised for his leadership since joining the Nets, both by members of the organization and from those outside of it.
But nothing has changed, Harden has continually said since being dealt by Houston on January 14 — a point he doubled down on after Wednesday’s win.
“(It’s) the same,” Harden said when asked about his leadership approach, per NBA writer Michael Scotto. “It’s just I get credit now, and previously I wasn’t getting credit. Same leadership. I’ve been the same person and haven’t changed not one bit.”
Before Wednesday’s Nets-Rockets matchup, Brooklyn coach Steve Nash corroborated Harden’s point. Nash said Harden is doing well playing with other star players but is still a No. 1-type player, per Ryan Herrera of the Houston Chronicle. He then referenced the Rockets taking Golden State to seven games in the 2018 Western Conference Finals as proof of his leadership.
Steve Nash speaking to the media, says James Harden is doing well playing with other star players but is still a #1 guy. Refers to the #Rockets taking Golden State to 7 games in 2018 WCF as proof of his leadership.
— Ryan Herrera (@ryan_a_herrera) March 3, 2021
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Harden Reflects After Emotion-Filled Night
Harden’s pointed remarks seemed more a shot at his critics than at Rocket fans. After all, he fully embraced the latter on Wednesday — even after some had booed him.
Harden thanked the Houston fans after a two-minute video tribute honored him early in the game, and he autographed his sneakers before throwing them to fans in the crowd after the game.
— B/R Kicks (@brkicks) March 4, 2021
When he wasked about having his jersey retired by the Rockets — something that was reported earlier in the week — Harden reiterated another point that helped to back up his leadership in Houston.
“Hopefully, I did something right,” Harden said, per Scotto. “Obviously, I came up short of a championship, but the work on and off the court that I put in over those past eight years was elite. I think that’s the only thing I didn’t do, a championship.”
James Harden on jersey being retired by the Rockets: “Hopefully, I did something right. Obviously, I came up short of a championship, but the work on and off the court that I put in over those past eight years was elite. I think that’s the only thing I didn’t do, a championship."
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) March 4, 2021