Houston Rockets: 3 reasons not to retire James Harden’s jersey

James Harden, Houston Rockets. Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images
James Harden, Houston Rockets. Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images /
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Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets, James Harden (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /

2. James Harden didn’t win a championship for the Houston Rockets

No, not every great player in league history can win a championship. It should not be held against them, even though the “ringz culture” that exists on social media would have you believe that to not win a championship makes you an absolute failure. Charles Barkley was not that, and neither were John Stockton and Karl Malone.

However, it is relevant in Harden’s case with the Rockets, because the ability to bring a city a championship glosses over pretty much everything. We forget now, but it sure seemed like when LeBron James returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second time, that he’d be playing the rest of his endless prime there.

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Except he brought the Cavaliers a championship and promptly left for the sunnier climate of Los Angeles, only this time fans waved him off fondly. A far cry from the first time James left, to join the Miami Heat, having not won a title and so was vilified in Cleveland and became for a period the most hated professional athlete in America.

We say all of this because Harden falls into the latter category in this instance. He sure did try hard to bring the team a title, and the front office can’t be accused of not making moves to try and help him. They may not have all worked out (Ryan Anderson for example), but players like Paul, Clint Capela, P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza all had the kind of skillset that worked with a ball-dominant player.

Fans have long speculated that it was Harden who pushed for Paul to be traded for his friend Russell Westbrook, and in many ways that signaled the beginning of the end of Harden’s era in town. If you’re counting at home then, Harden made lots of money, had a front office that worked miracles around the fringes of the roster, and had a big say in how the team was run.

To then decide he didn’t want to be a part of that anymore, having not won a championship, is not good. It is great that we live in an era of player empowerment. Again, the Harden era should in time be looked back on fondly. But getting your jersey retired after all of that? One championship would have given Harden license to leave on whatever terms he wanted as a legend. Instead, he is getting that anyway.