Yahoo Sports – James Harden may no longer be with the Houston Rockets, but his number is set to live in the rafters at the Toyota Center forever. The Rockets, owner Tilman Fertitta said on Tuesday, are set to retire Harden’s number later this season.
“James Harden will always be a Rocket,” Fertitta told the Houston Chronicle. “Of course, we will retire his jersey. He made my first three years of owning the franchise unforgettable. The success he brought this franchise over eight years and the memories he created for our fan base/community [are] truly remarkable.”
Harden will be the seventh player in team history to have his number retired by the organization, joining Calvin Murphy, Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Rudy Tomjanovich, Clyde Drexler and Yao Ming. Longtime assistant coach and team executive Carroll Dawson had his initials retired, too.
This is like putting a giant framed picture of your ex-wife on the mantle in the house for your new girlfriend to look at every single day. I understand James Harden is undeniably one of the Rocket’s best players of all-time as a former league MVP and 8x All-Star, even if it didn’t lead to a championship, but it’s been less than TWO MONTHS since Harden shut it down and shot his way out of town. The dude was going to strip clubs (sorry, birthday parties) in the middle of a pandemic and missing games on the regular. The guy looked out of shape and unmotivated and was publicly criticizing his supporting cast as he demanded a trade through the media. So announcing that you plan to retire his number *this season* is some sad stuff.
In fairness Harden did play 8+ seasons with the Rockets, which is more than Yao Ming, Clyde Drexler, and Moses Malone. So I’m not saying you need to nuke your entire relationship with the Beard, but maybe give it some time to breathe before giving him the ultimate honor. And this is coming from a Celtics fan where every other number is already up in the rafters. The Celtics will probably be the first team to introduce three-digit numbers out of pure necessity.
But have some pride, man.
This ain’t Kevin Garnett reluctantly accepting a trade to Boston and giving up on Minnesota late in his career. This is a guy that routinely dictated moves he wanted like bringing on Chris Paul, then shipping out Chris Paul, then bringing on Russell Westbrook, then shipping out Russell Westbrook, and then looking around and deciding nah it ain’t working here, I’m out. And the Rockets aren’t some dumpster fire either, they made the playoffs every single season Harden was there, going as far as the Conference Finals twice. So if I’m a Rockets fan you bet I’m a little annoyed at the franchise immediately opting to retire his number like six weeks after Harden flipped the bird on his way out of town to greener pastures.
Thnks fr th Mmrs, James.