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James Harden greeted with boos, cheers, logs another triple-double in return to Houston

Jason Owens
·2 min read

Six weeks after a blockbuster trade sent James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, the nine-time All-Star made his return to Houston on Wednesday.

The Nets traveled to face the Houston Rockets, where Harden posted another triple-double, posting 29 points, 14 assists and 10 rebounds in a 132-114 win. It marked his eighth triple-double since joining the Nets, leaving him four short of the single-season team record held by Jason Kidd. He needed just 23 games to get there.

Tribute, boos, cheers for Harden

Prior to the game, Harden was met with a tribute video from his former team and a limited crowd.

The official greeting from the Rockets was one of welcome. A day after team owner Tilman Fertitta announced that the Rockets would retire Harden's jersey No. 13, a two-minute pregame tribute to Harden played at the Toyota Center celebrating his prolific scoring performances, his 2018 league MVP and his efforts in the community.

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The unofficial reception from the smattering of fans allowed to attend per Texas COVID-19 regulations was less glowing. When Harden's name was called during pregame introductions, fans unleashed a healthy mix of boos, screams and cheers.

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Harden: 'Lot of mixed emotions from the fans'

"A lot of mixed emotions from the fans," Harden told ESPN after the game. ... "Credit to the ownership of the Rockets, the Fertitta family for putting my jersey in the rafters. Hopefully that shows — on the court, off the court — the contributions that I had to this city.

"I appreciate the support, love — the show goes on."

Harden left Houston as undoubtedly one of the Rockets' and the NBA's all-time great players. He also left without hanging a banner while forcing his way out of town. Wednesday's fan reaction reflected the mixed legacy he left behind.

Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden (13) smiles at a group of fans after he finishes warming up before an NBA basketball game against the Houston Rockets, Wednesday, March 3, 2021 in Houston. (Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)
The fan reaction to Harden's Houston return was less positive than the official team welcome.(Mark Mulligan/Houston Chronicle via AP)

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