It took James Harden just one game to make history as a member of the Brooklyn Nets, while also silencing his doubters in the process. In his first game for his new team since being traded from the Houston Rockets, Harden finished with 32 points, 14 assists, and 12 rebounds in the Nets’ 122-115 win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
The 2018 MVP became the first player in NBA history to finish with a 30-point triple double in his debut for a new team, while his 14 assists tied a franchise record, matching the all-time high for a player making his debut for a different team.
Aside from his strong performance for the Nets, Harden mostly looked comfortable playing alongside Kevin Durant, his former teammate with the Oklahoma City Thunder. After facing heavy criticism for how he handled the end of his tenure with the Rockets, one man who voiced his support for the eight-time All Star is Dwyane Wade, who said that the 31-year old shooting guard looked happy with his new team.
Harden clearly appreciated Wade’s support, but also took the time to call out those who criticized him in an Instagram story.
In the story, he expressed disappointment at former NBA players who, instead of celebrating African-American athletes and males excelling in their sport and using their influence, criticized him on national TV or on social media. Harden did not single out a particular player, though Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley of TNT’s Inside the NBA are among those who have gone on record to badmouth his recent actions.
Harden and the Nets next play the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday as he looks to continue his strong start with his new team and prove his doubters wrong.