For the first time since February 15th, 2012, James Harden will be visiting the Toyota Center as an opponent when his Brooklyn Nets face off against the Houston Rockets on March 3rd. Harden will be quite familiar with the arena and the court, as he’s created historical moments as a member with the Rockets over the previous eight seasons.
Harden forced his way out of Houston in unceremonious fashion, which rubbed many local media members the wrong way. Harden received criticism from former players and even former Rockets greats, as many wondered why a player would leave a team that did so much to appease him.
Harden was adopted and taken in by the city of Houston and the Rockets fans as one of their own, as they stood by his side and came to his defense whenever it was necessary. Harden made sure to thank the fans on his way out the door, as he couldn’t help but acknowledge how much support he received from the Rockets faithful.
Will James Harden be ready to face the Houston Rockets as a visitor?
The Rockets compiled a video tribute on the team’s Twitter account almost immediately after he was dealt, which was further proof of the appreciation the franchise had for the many moments that were created with and by him.
For this reason, Harden figures to be in for an emotional return in the NBA’s shortened 2020-21 season. One former Rockets great who knows a thing or two about returning to face the team as an opponent is Steve Francis, who joined NBC Houston’s Sports Sunday and shared his thoughts on what awaits Harden on March 3rd.
“I know it’s going to be a hard game for him to come back here and play.”
Francis was dealt to the Orlando Magic during the 2004-05 season and returned to Houston to face the Rockets on January 24th, 2005, scoring 23 points, albeit on 10-of-28 from the floor, grabbing 10 rebounds, and dishing out seven assists in a lopsided 89-78 Houston Rockets victory.
Francis fared much better in his second return to Houston, which came in the fourth game of the 2005-06 season, as he had 27 points (12-of-26), five assists, and three rebounds. As for Francis, he noted, “I’ll be there. No secret. I will be there.”
Harden has struggled to adapt to his role, which is to be expected, as he joined a team with two superstars after the season was already underway and has been thrust into the point guard role in Brooklyn. Harden is averaging 23 points (his lowest since 2011-12) on 47.2 percent from the field and 35.6 percent from three.
Harden is hauling in 11.3 assists, while dishing out 5.3 turnovers, and taking just 14.2 shots per game, which is his fewest since 2011-12, in which he was a sixth man.
Harden will certainly get more comfortable in the Nets’ offense as he gets more familiar with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, but he will certainly face a wave of emotions when he returns to the place that turned him into a star, the Space City.