Despite the rather bitter ending to the Harden-Rockets partnership in mid-January, when he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets, the Houston franchise's governor put something to rest on Tuesday (ET).
"James Harden will always be a Rocket," Fertitta told the Houston Chronicle. "Of course, we will retire his jersey. He made my first three years of owning the franchise unforgettable. The success he brought this franchise over eight years and the memories he created for our fan base/community [are] truly remarkable."
The comment by Rockets governor Fertitta comes a few days before Harden returns to Houston for the first time since being traded to the Brooklyn Nets in mid-January.
When his jersey does go up at the Toyota Center, he will join the likes of Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, Clyde Drexler and Yao Ming.
In his eight full seasons with the franchise, Harden led the Rockets to the playoffs every year including a couple of Conference Finals appearances in 2015 and 2018.
For the 2017-18 season, he finished with averages of 30.4 points, 8.8 assists, and 5.4 rebounds to be named league MVP. Thus, becoming only the third player in franchise history after Moses Malone (1979, 1982) and Hakeem Olajuwon (1994) to receive the award.
Harden has been making and breaking records in his short 22-game stint with the Nets but Houston will be a special place for him.
"I'm excited just to go back to Houston where I basically had an unbelievable career there," Harden said of his first game back in Houston. "They showed me mad love & respect & I'm just excited to be playing in front of those fans..Yeah I'm excited."
James Harden (@JHarden13) back in Houston with the Nets Wednesday: "I'm excited just to go back to Houston where I basically had an unbelievable career there. They showed me mad love & respect & I'm just excited to be playing in front of those fans..Yeah I'm excited." pic.twitter.com/dzLZgRR7Pw- Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 2, 2021
With career averages of 29.6 points, 7.7 assists, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.8 steals in 621 career regular-season games for the Rockets, Harden is undoubtedly one of the greatest players in franchise history.
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