As the Philadelphia Eagles faced off with the Minnesota Vikings in their first home game of the year, they had a star-studded audience in attendance, including. Emmy winner Quinta Brunson, Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper and Phillies star Bryce Harper.
And new Sixers star James Harden, who had a front-row seat at Lincoln Financial Field, was met with a warm response by the Philadelphia fans. He even came away with a souvenir after Eagles cornerback Darius Slay intercepted a pass by Kirk Cousins in the end zone and handed the ball to Harden.
Harden was quick to show off the souvenir on Instagram, captioning his post, “Fly Eagles Fly!”
James Harden Making Philadelphia Home
The former NBA MVP has been quick to make himself at home in Philadelphia since getting traded to the 76ers in February.
Harden endeared himself to Philly fans in July by declining his $47.4 million team option in favor of a more team-friendly deal. He ultimately agreed to a two-year deal with $68.6 million with the second year as a player option. The deal allowed the Sixers to make several notable moves this offseason including signing PJ Tucker, Danuel House and Montrezl Harrell.
In his initial press conference following the trade to the Sixers, Harden stated that he had hoped to go to Philadelphia after leaving the Houston Rockets in 2020. He was a positive addition on the court and has provided the team with high-IQ playmaking and proved to be a deadly pick-and-roll partner with Joel Embiid.
What’s Next for Harden?
The Sixers’ season is right around the corner, with training camp is just a week away in Charleston, South Carolina, where they will begin to write the story of their 2022-23 season.
Harden will have high expectations as he returns to the court this season. During his few months with the Sixers last season, he did not have his usual burst and he appeared to struggle to create separation. Still, he averaged 21.0 points, 10.5 assists and 7.1 rebounds per game in 21 games with Philadelphia. During the postseason, those averages slipped to 18.6 points, 8.6 assists, and 5.7 rebounds per game.
Lingering hamstring issues have been labeled as the root of the problem, and Harden has made it his priority this offseason to get back to 100%.
“I’m taking this summer as an opportunity to do something for me, to make sure that I get back to the elite level that I know I can be at and that I will be at,” he told Haute Time, a luxury brand magazine, for a story published July 14. “So that’s priority No. 1. Basketball is the engine that drives everything — for us to be having this conversation, all the partners that I have, and the great things that I have going on outside of basketball — so I’ve got to make sure that’s on point.”
By all accounts, he is in terrific shape and is ready to return to form moving forward.
For the time being, Harden will enjoy soaking in the Eagles victory in his new home city, just across the parking lot from where the Sixers will begin their season in October.