Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Houston plans to retire James Harden’s number? Aw, Hell no!

JAmes Harden should not be honored in Houston.
JAmes Harden should not be honored in Houston.
Illustration: AP

The Houston Rockets have lost their damn minds.

Retire James Harden’s jersey?

No way, no how!

Let’s get this straight.The best player for the Rockets’ franchise decides out of the blue that he doesn’t want to be there anymore.

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So Harden demands a trade. Publicly, no less. He comes to training camp out of shape. At one point, it truly looked like he was wearing the same fat suit Eddie Murphy wore in the The Nutty Professor.

Harden acts totally unprofessional in trying to get his exit. He breaks COVID-19 safety protocol and is photographed wearing no mask at a party filled with mask-less strippers. He is fined by the NBA for putting teammates at risk.

Then, in a press conference, Harden tells NBA America that the Rockets are trash and they can’t win.

With the rest of the team damaged and disheartened, the Rockets have no choice but to give Harden his wish and deal him to the Brooklyn Nets the next day.

Harden is happy.

The Rockets and their fans are left in ruins, their season destroyed and any hope of winning a championship gone.

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Now, that’s the guy you want to celebrate and thank for the memories.

Enter delusional Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta. Despite the damage to his fanbase and team’s market value, he told Yahoo! Sports that Harden would forever be a Rocket.

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“James Harden will always be a Rocket,” Fertitta said. “Of course, we will retire his number.”

Maybe, you could buy into it had Harden left the city with a gift — a championship. Something like that will endear you to fans forever.

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It’s like Kawhi Leonard in Toronto. There will always be a warm spot in Raptors fans’ hearts for Leonard because he helped deliver that franchise’s first title.

Harden is better known for having his jersey retired in a strip club for reportedly spending $1 million in a single night.

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If you think that makes no sense, neither does this premature proclamation by the Rockets. There was no need to announce such a thing. Harden has a long way to go in his career. Maybe, he comes back to Houston. Then there could be forgiveness like what happened in Cleveland with LeBron James.

The Rockets have retired six numbers in their franchise history thus far

Some will argue that Harden is the second-best player to ever wear a Rockets uniform. Obviously, Hakeem Olajuwon was their best player, leading them to back-to-back championships in the 90s.

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And I get it that guys who never won a title as a player in Houston have had their number retired, including Calvin Murphy, Rudy Tomjanovich (he won two as a coach) and Yao Ming.

Still, the Harden thing shouldn’t sit well with Rockets fans.

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For all the great offensive numbers Harden put up in Houston, his legacy is more about disappointing postseasons. Harden-led teams never got the job done, never got to the NBA Finals.

And there were some memories in the playoffs that were just awful, including the 201820 playoffs. Harden was a part of that debacle when the Rockets missed 27 threes in a row.

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In 2013, Harden shot just 39 percent from the field in the Rockets’ opening-round loss to OKC.

The next year, Harden shot 8-for-28 from the field in a playoff game against Portland.

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In 2015, Harden set an NBA single-game playoff record with a baker’s dozen in turnovers — that’s 13 — in a series-ending Game 5 loss to Golden State.

In 2019, Harden recorded the third-worst field-goal percentage (3-for-20, 15 percent) in a playoff game in 30 years in a game against the Utah Jazz.

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There’s not enough space on the internet to list all the postseason woes for Harden in Houston.

Clearly, his postseason play shouldn’t be rewarded.

Let the Nets retire his number after he helps them win a championship in Brooklyn. For sure, since he forced his way out of Houston, Harden has been the best player in the NBA.

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We saw that last night in his first game back in Houston since the trade. He torched his former team with a three-double in a 132-114 victory.

Celebrating a guy who walks out on you just doesn’t feel right. The Rockets went off course with this one.