Reason #1: The sequel is never as good as the original
This final reason is an appeal to emotion. The James Harden that left the Rockets is dead, and he is never coming back. The all-encompassing offensive force that made defenses trap at midcourt is a distant memory. Harden coming back to Houston would be the sequel no one wanted, with the past their prime actor or director making one final money grab.
It would be the same mistake as making the Godfather Part III, Dumb and Dumber To, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Escape from L.A., Rambo (4), and Tron: Legacy. They’re all bad movies that looked to capitalize on our nostalgia.
The Rockets signing James Harden would be a nostalgia money grab. It would make the fans feel like the franchise was becoming a contender again because they were once a contender with that guy at the helm. The problem is that guy isn’t that guy anymore.
Francis Ford Coppola hadn’t made a great film since 1979 when he made the Godfather Part III. Jim Carrey hadn’t been an A-list star since the early 2000s when Dumb and Dumber To hit theaters, Harrison Ford was 66 when Kingdom of the Crystal Skull came out, John Carpenter hadn’t had a true hit in a decade when Escape from L.A. came out, Sylvester Stallone was beyond washed when Rambo was released, the original Tron wasn’t even that good in the first place, and James Harden has been fading since the moment he left the Rockets.
There are examples of sequels that bring back the star in a supporting role, and they’re usually better, but Hollywood films don’t have salary caps and don’t even need to be good to turn a profit. I want James Harden the Rocket to be remembered in all his glory, and a sequel would only tarnish it. The Rockets and Harden have moved on, as they should have. Bringing him back for nostalgia won’t solve any problems and will likely create new ones.
James Harden had an astonishing ride in Houston. He gave the franchise and city the eight best years of his career. They were a playoff lock every season and built the greatest team in franchise history. Sure, they never won a title, but that’s because they ran into the greatest team ever, suffered the worst-timed hamstring pull in NBA history, and had a historic cold stretch from three. Let greatness be James Harden’s Houston legacy. And let the kids build a new one on their own.