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James Harden’s wake

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We will mourn his departure, and celebrate his times.

Dallas Mavericks v Houston Rockets Photo by Cato Cataldo/NBAE via Getty Images

“And you’ll miss me more as the narrowing weeks wing by. Someday duly, oneday truly, twosday newly, till whensday.”

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake

So now we place a #13 Rockets jersey down on the three point line, and light a candle at either end.

James Harden isn’t dead, but he’s gone.

The angry, strange, possibility of the time he occupied, the idea of Rockets Versus Mundum, the idea of that succeeding despite the accidents of history, and cap spikes, has died indeed. Eight years of excellence, hope, and agony, are dead.

If you are so inclined, you might join me in a toast (the usual legal and moral caveats apply).

To James Harden, the second greatest Rocket of all time.

I’ve said that the greatest of NBA players are like the protagonists of Greek tragedy. Their greatness is also their undoing flaw. James Harden is a singular player, an offense almost unto himself, capable of carrying an entire team to the playoffs. He’s a one man team on offense.

He thrives, and falls, for the same reason. He’s a one man team on offense. There can really be no team other than James Harden (at least that we’ve seen) and if he’s stopped, the team is stopped. Maybe if the others are excellent enough, that may change.

Harden, we now know, spent the last few years demanding more help, demanding change, essentially making player moves. He then utterly refused to make any changes, or take any responsibility, on his own part. He wanted control, but didn’t want to live with the consequences of control. As he’s a superstar in his prime, he could make such demands, up to, and including, this trade.

I will miss James Harden, the second greatest Rocket of all time. I’ve never seen anything like him when he was on his game, which was mostly. I don’t expect I’ll see his like again on the Rockets. Other stars, of course, but not anything like James Harden, because the NBA has never seen anything like James Harden.

I’ll miss the unstoppable scoring output, the recondite mastery of so many things never before seen on a basketball court, the astonishing passing, and pure power combined with unlikely grace.

Make no mistake, the Rockets lost arguably the second best player in the NBA. There’s not really any replacement for that. There can’t be. There’s also no arguing that he wasn’t playing like the second best player in the NBA, or even the second best player on a team that has gone 3-6.

I hoped in the end it might work out. I thought my eyes wouldn’t be quite so dry.

I won’t miss defending my talented, but exasperating, family member to the whole world.

Things ran their course, and in a better world, a lot would be different.

But here were are, and tomorrow’s dawn is a new day for the Rockets.

Raise the parting glass in one last toast to The Beard: may you prosper, yet never exceed the Rockets.

If you wish to offer your thoughts, toasts, or even jokes or pranks below, please do. In the tradition of a wake, this isn’t the time for grievances.

PS - Bring Calvin Murphy back. All he did was tell the truth.

PPS - I wonder how hard Daryl Morey actually tried to get Harden?

PPPS - I still don’t care about the Nets.

Poll

A toast?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    To the 13th beard!
    (115 votes)
  • 37%
    To better days!
    (203 votes)
  • 26%
    To what could have been!
    (144 votes)
  • 14%
    To the confusion of Dallas!
    (80 votes)
542 votes total Vote Now