Rockets star James Harden offers inspirational words ahead of controversial season debut
James Harden and the Houston Rockets are set to tip-off their first game of the season on Saturday versus the Portland Trail Blazers. Despite the drama Harden was involved in during the offseason, he offered some words of encouragement as he prepares to enter his 12th season in the NBA, per Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle.
Asked about the NBA decision to make him unavailable this week and what it took to be cleared to play, James Harden said, "Year 12 for me. I'm excited. Never want to take playing basketball for granted."
— Jonathan Feigen (@Jonathan_Feigen) December 26, 2020
Following Houston’s decision to move on from Mike D’Antoni and Daryl Morey, Harden and Russell Westbrook were uncertain of the direction of the organization. Provided that, they both made it known that they’d prefer to be traded from the Rockets.
While Westbrook received his wish, having been traded to the Washington Wizards, Harden remains in Houston. However, the eight-time All-Star was absent from training camp and has been seen in videos where he’s been at strip clubs instead of attending practices.
His latest incident involving an appearance at a strip club caught the attention of the league, prompting them to launch an investigation on the matter. After looking into the situation, the NBA fined him $50,000 for violating the league’s health and safety protocols amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the same time, the Rockets were unable to have their first game of the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder due to Harden and other members being deemed as players who are required to quarantine. Though, Harden only had to quarantine through Friday due to his incident occurring earlier than the one involving his teammates.
It has been quite the whirlwind of an offseason for Harden and the Rockets. Nevertheless, Harden is focused on playing in his 12th NBA season, likely in hopes to show teams that he’s still a premier scorer so teams are more enticed to trade for him.