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 Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

1. The way James Harden left

Returning to the eight games Harden played for the Rockets this season, and it could and should have been more than that. Except in an effort to force his way out of Houston, Harden went AWOL before training camp and then as a result of COVID protocols couldn’t be around the franchise for an extended period of time.

This after having been snapped in both Atlanta and Las Vegas, not exactly adhering to social distancing or wearing a mask. Far be it from this writer or anybody else to comment on somebody’s appearance either, and in fact, Harden was pretty great in those games with the Rockets, but it would be fair to say he didn’t exactly look like he was in mid-season shape.

You can suddenly decide to quit on a team. It has happened before. Dwight Howard is a famous example. He suddenly wanted to leave the Orlando Magic, and eventually, his wish was granted. Nine years later and his jersey still hasn’t be retired (most recently worn by Gary Clark). He left on bad terms and didn’t bring a championship, so it isn’t totally surprising. Doing this on your return doesn’t help either.

As mentioned though, time heals all, and many Magic fans were happy to see him win a championship with the Los Angeles Lakers last season. His jersey likely will be retired one day, because with the benefit of looking back and realizing how great those times were, with enough time having gone by to remove fans from the pain, it is easier to remember the good times.

Harden has since apologized for how his tenure with the Rockets ended, which is a start. It also proves that he knew he wasn’t exactly being easy to deal with once he decided he wanted to up and leave. From his point of view he probably realized his prime wouldn’t last forever and wanted to win a championship. It is easy to understand that.

But when you sign on to make a lot of money to lead a franchise, having proven you are more than good enough to do so, then suddenly decide you don’t want to anymore, finding out you are getting your jersey retired so soon after leaving is not good. It just promotes the idea that stars can actually do what they want, and yet still be rewarded.

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