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James Harden says playing Thunder will be ‘just another game’

Nov 28, 2012, 11:30 AM EDT

Toronto Raptors v Houston Rockets Getty Images

The Rockets will play the Thunder in Oklahoma City on Wednesday, which will mark the first time that James Harden will lace ’em up against the team he couldn’t come to terms with on a contract extension shortly before the start of the season.

As a result, OKC traded Harden to Houston, where he’s been mostly spectacular as the team’s number one offensive option, averaging just over 25 points per game on the season.

The Thunder had something special going with the young core of Harden, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook making their first trip to the Finals last season, but the organization decided to change that in favor of future financial flexibility.

There apparently are no hard feelings on Harden’s part, however, who says he’ll approach this game just like any other.

From Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle:

“I’m on the road trying to get a win,” Harden said Tuesday. “That’s no different than when we played at Memphis or Atlanta or whatever the case may be.”

He said he never expected to leave Oklahoma City …, but he refuses to consider the game special.

“To be honest, I don’t even know,” he said. “It will be good to see some faces, some old teammates and coaches. They’re all my family. I look forward to every single game I play. It’s just another game.”

Before we’re too quick to dismiss Harden’s comments as disingenuous athlete-speak, it’s worth noting the team has more important things on its mind.

The Rockets will be in Minnesota earlier in the day to support head coach Kevin McHale, whose 23-year-old daughter Sasha passed away over the weekend. They’ll attend the funeral, before heading into Oklahoma City later this afternoon.

The gravity of handling that situation, especially on a game day, will likely outweigh any lingering grudges in Harden’s mind.

Getting back to basketball, Harden honestly doesn’t have anything to be upset about. He received the max contract he believed he deserved in Houston, and is proving his worth as a starter, which is something he never would have gotten the opportunity to do in Oklahoma City.

Still, with all of that being said, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Harden bring a little extra something to the contest once he does step on the court to face his former team.

  1. bigmeechy74 - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:44 PM

    I live in Tulsa and have been a huge fan of the Thunder since they came to oklahoma. But ever since they traded harden it just hasn’t been the same. I kinda hope the rockets beat them.

    • thunderfan2013 - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:05 PM

      Sorry but no huge fan of any team would say they hope their team gets best WEAK!

      • thunderfan2013 - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:06 PM

        Beat! Damn auto correct

  2. ferrellwhenispeak - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:16 PM

    Well while he may not feel it, watch his game. He’s not sporadic, in fact, he almost picks and chooses the poison to kill you with, if you don’t. He really doesn’t have to his teammates do. Like Parsons he’s going for 40 tonight. Soldier? Not quite, Loyal, all dat and an abundance of talent.

    • thunderfan2013 - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:09 PM

      He isn’t going for 40 on our defense if she shoots lights out on covered looks he may get 30. Thabo defense is too good!

  3. misterdreamer119 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:50 PM

    Ok? If you say so bearded one.

  4. gopokes0714 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:06 PM

    If he was mad, he would have to be mad at his agent.

    Its been rumored here in OKC, by some pretty creditable inside sources that Sam Presti told Harden’s agent this is our max offer. If its turned down we will trade him. Apparently Harden’s agent convinced Harden that Sam was bluffing and would offer max.

    Kind of goes with “I never expected to leave OKC”.

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