In case you haven’t heard, the Houston Rockets have quite an interesting game on tap tomorrow night when wayward son James Harden returns to the Toyota Center as a member of the Brooklyn Nets. The team will surely have a video tribute planned, but something even bigger than that was just announced, and that is the Rockets plan on retiring James Harden’s number 13 to the rafters.
Harden will join Yao Ming’s number 11, Clyde Drexler’s number 22, Calvin Murphy’s number 23, Moses Malone’s number 24, Hakeem Olajuwon’s number 34, Rudy Tomjanovich’s number 45, and Carrol Dawson’s CD in the pantheon of Rockets greats forever honored inside the arena, and it’s a recognition well-earned.
In nine seasons in H-town, Harden averaged 29.6 points, 6 rebounds, 7.7 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on 44.2 percent shooting, while racking up nine All-Star appearances, six First-Team All-NBA selections, three scoring titles, an assist title, and an MVP award with multiple runner ups. In addition, the Rockets made the playoffs every season The Beard finished the year in Houston, he and leaves town as the likely second-best Rocket ever behind Olajuwon.
While the way he gave up on the team and forced his way out of town may leave a sour taste in people’s mouths regarding his time in Houston, there’s no doubting the impact he had on the court, and a few months of turmoil shouldn’t dampen the unprecedented run of consistent success the team and its fans experienced with Harden in town.
Harden deserves to have his number retired, even if he never won a title with the Rockets, and I’m happy he’s receiving this honor not just for what he did for the team, but also for his numerous philanthropic efforts for the city of Houston throughout the years.
Despite growing up in California, Harden is an adopted son of Houston, and this move makes sure he’ll always be recognized as one.
Houston owner Tilman Feritta had this to say:
James Harden will always be a Rocket. Of course, we will retire his jersey. He made my first three years of owning this franchise unforgettable. The success he brought this franchise over eight years and the memories he created for our fan base and community are truly remarkable.