The Beard Grows Fast On Rockets

Is it too soon for James Harden to ask for a raise?

Just hours after he signed that five-year deal in the $80 million ballpark with the Rockets, it looked like Harden was ready for a bigger ballpark.

Not to make too much of one game, but Harden’s 37-point, 12-assist, six-rebound performance was the basketball equivalent to a defibrillator — sending a needed jolt of electricity to the heart of a moribund Rockets franchise.

It was the first time in NBA history that a player scored as many as 30 points and dealt 12 assists in his first game with a new team. And what made it all the more impressive was the way Harden made it all look as easy as growing a beard in the 105-96 win over the Pistons.

What did Harden do? Anything he wanted. He slashed and drove to the basket. He pulled up and knocked down a quartet of 3-point shots. He fed his big men in the post and he fired bullet passes to cutting teammates.

Harden was everything the Rockets had hoped he would be and everything that had been missing since the unfulfilling Yao Ming-Tracy McGrady Era went over the falls in a broken barrel.

In 44 splendid minutes, he became not only the face of the franchise, but the stylish tonsorial symbol of rebirth.

While general manager Daryl Morey had been shuffling and reshuffling the deck for the past three years, what he could never seem to deal himself was an ace.

Until now.

What Harden gives the Rockets is confidence. The kind that comes from possessing the talent that gets you chosen with the No. 3 pick in the draft. The kind that is forged in 47 games of playoff experience over three postseason runs in Oklahoma City.

From the opening minutes when he went straight to the hole, fearlessly pulled the trigger on jumpers and played like the leader he was brought in to be, Harden was able to fade the heat on his scrutinized backcourt partner Jeremy Lin and pulled the rest of the youngest roster in the league over all the bumps and pitfalls. Now somebody’s just got to figure out a way to hang a giant beard on the outside of the Toyota Center.

It was the kind of stuff that Harden had flashed before while playing the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook and the kind of beard-on-fire game the Thunder might yearn for sometime in the playoffs next spring.

It was only a start, of course, but of the eye-popping kind that should get the Rockets back onto the NBA radar and that, in turn, could attract the attention of a future free agent who just might want to come and play with him. After all, the Rockets will still have max dollars available under the salary cap to offer next summer.

That is, if they don’t give Harden that raise.


  1. yoyoyoyo says:

    hardy boii is the man lay off him and let him do his thing

  2. Me says:

    what i find hilarious is ….. 2 years ago on south beach everyone said you can’t buy a team….. you can’t just win a championship u need to gel you need chemistry, i heard people scream that they would never win a championship or would even struggle to make the playoffs because everyone hated Lebron, Bosh got cracked down by nearly everyone, but because Harden joins the Rockets they are an instant playoff team accordingly to the majority of voters…… wtf????? And don’t give me Jeremy Lin as an argument that they are automaticly in the playoffs, not saying they won’t make it, i just don’t get it, as i said before bread and games said Ceasar. And TNT says we give you bread and games between the bread and games, wake up…

  3. Mrod says:

    Like Guillermo, from Jimmy Kimmel, asked during the NBA finals, “Are you a Hatfield or a McCoy?” Right now daddy o’, I’m glad he’s a Houston Rocket.

  4. tonydhsuh says:

    Are we forgetting that James Harden just played ONE game?

    He played very well, good for him but these stats are not going to be consistent.

    May not be the answer to Houston in a months time.

  5. Tsequoia says:

    Good trade for the thunder and rockets. One now can begin to see a structure taking place in houston. Now if they can get White on board they will have come a very long way in a short period of time. Also they still have a lot of money under the cap for next summer. Also Cook should help, good spot up shooter along with 2 additional big men.

  6. Pablo says:

    Jeremy Lin is mad no longer the name of the team

  7. Julio says:

    Well 1st off congrats to harden , he did everything a basketball player can do when he was with the thunder , yes that young team is durants and westbrooks team but dammit harden was part of the core , they were in the finals last year , why in the world would u trade a core player !!! Thunder management is down right stupid !!! bulls never traded pippen or Ron Harper or Toni kukoc !! SMDH !!! The thunder were better off then the bulls even with Derrick rose !!!! why thunder why. ????????? Trade harden ???? all I got to say is “CHAMPIONSHIP DREAMS ARE GONE” and that’s in all due respect to durant & Westbrook , thunder management is retarded u remind me of Tim mcviegh

  8. thesniper321 says:

    Way to identify the casual basketball fans one big night and the dude is now ahead of kobe on the hall of fame list lol (like kevin martin never had big nights right??). let’s be serious and see what you “harden is so great” people are going to say in january , I won’t miss that even if my life was threatened lol

  9. Great game from James harden but it’s to early to ask for a raise us it was Detroit that’s to easy lets see what he does when he run into the heat and thunder

  10. team2win1 says:

    Lets get a few things straight right off the bat.
    OKC is a small market team and has hit the small market team bubble. They gave max deals to Durrant and Westbrook, so they needed Ibaka and can’t sign Harden to max deal.. who wants to pay 2 for 1 luxury tax in a small market.

    If anybody knows basketball and have watched it, Harden is one hell of a player. On the bench or starting he will be effective either way. He knows how to hustle at both ends. The rockets however getting Harden at the price they paid might have made a mistake. With their other additions and 1st round draft choices, they will be paying a hefty luxury tax without having a championship caliber team. This will also stop them from signing any significant free agent next year, so they can only trade their way to a much needed inside presence and off the bench knock down shooter. If Asik and rookies can’t move to the next level in the next 2 or 3 years quickly enough, all this is in vain for the rockets. They will not have any moves when 2014-2015 comes.

    Way to go Houston for at least trying to make your team much better! To bad all franchises aren’t trying to do this, umm Sacramento, Bobcats, Toronto, Detroit,

  11. jimbo says:

    they’ll be missing harden in okc money over everything hey lol

  12. K.I.N.G says:

    Harden future superstar….nuff said

  13. vern says:

    I kind of dissed Harden the other day saying he’s not worth 52 mill. Seems like he told me “HOW YOU LIKE ME NOW?”
    If that first game is any indication of how he’ll play starting for the Rockets, I must apologize and eat my words. Harden looked good in his first game.
    PS: Anyone affected by the hurricane please accept my blessings. I know it can be hard but try to keep your head up.

    • TKH says:

      What do you mean “please accept your blessings”?

      • W/E says:

        there r so many overpaid players in the NBA,Harden has better all around skills than most of them,he just have to be more consistent and he has potential to be a 10 top player. Time will tell of course.

      • vern says:

        It meant that they are in my prays! You know what I meant.

  14. Bruno says:

    Maybe it’s time to change those ugly jerseys, Houston.

  15. heroes del silencio says:

    The author (flan blueberry or whatever his name is) writes like a high school student. His writing is childish, a raise for harden? what is he talking about? on every article he tries to call a readers interest by making the weakest over statements. This guy belongs with the group of yahoo writers.

  16. Mohcel says:

    The missing link in Houston is a powerful power-forward who can change the game also. I like the thought that Royce White can fulfill that promise but given he must planes. lol I’m a Celtic fan but i like what’s going on in Houston.

  17. bunbury says:

    someone mentioned “wagonist.” Come on now, we are all like that. let’s not be hypocrites. look at miami, they sold out as soon as Lebron signed with them. look at the clippers.

  18. l00000000000000000l says:

    harden should be a 30+ avg scorer in the rockets team, him and lin will score majority of the points.

  19. W/E says:

    Its good for Harden that he left hes a starter and hes gunna average major minutes,we r gunna see how good he really is this year. I still cant beleive they traded him…

  20. E-SY says:

    One of the best backcourts in the NBA… it’s just a shame Lin is part of it, but Harden makes up for it!

  21. Troyerz says:

    My Rockets are officially on the RISE!!

    Even when T-mac ‘n Yao left, this team never stopped competing, even without a franchise player. Now that we finally have a couple of young franchise players, outer space will soon be the limit for us.

    The Pistons looked young and revamped as well. If you’re wondering whether Harden can do this nightly against contenders? the answer is Yes! Not only has he done it many times in the playoffs before, he seems quite relaxed, playing his natural hard game on both ends. It’s his team mates though I’m somewhat worried about.

    This reminds me of when Lebron landed in Cleveland. He was great but had to cope with the deficiency of his roster. No one expects the Rockets to win right away thought -but they will begin to.

    If Maya Moore is called ‘li’l Catch’, then I think we should call Harden ‘li’l King James’.

    • MHM 35 says:

      Um… no we shouldn’t. That’s an insult to both LeBron and Harden.

    • Califan says:

      No I don’t think we should be doing all that just yet. Let’s see how the Rockets do against the leagues top teams. Much credit to Harden and the rest though because they are looking good out there.

  22. Ritch says:

    Lets see if the PKC will be the same impressive team they were last year…hope Kevin Martin can fill the position left by Harden

  23. ko0kie says:

    does anyone still wanna argue that kevin martin is the same player as harden? lol

  24. KingKong says:

    Good job Harden.

  25. Reddy says:

    I’m a fan of oklahoma city and i’m very sad to see Harden leaves OKC. But it’s very interesting to watch Rockets rosters this year, they have young rosters like OKC three years ago, i hope they can be a winning team like OKC. Sorry if my english is not good.

  26. Kingk says:

    Big game by harden last night! Lets see if he cans do this against some playoff teams.

  27. Macubexx says:

    As one of the quotes I’ve read.. “In order to be great, you need to be free.”(not the exact words but something like that)

  28. JLin says:

    I had been a fan of the Rockets since the time of Olajuwon. When his era was over, I am still excited because of Yao Ming and T mac. However, the tandem was plagued by injuries and never gave a good result. And in the last few years, The team became a mediocre team. I realized a am not enjoying this team anymore. And since I am a loyalist, I decided not to watch NBA anymore than to root for other teams. Then came Linsanity last year. I watched NBA again! And now with him in Houston with a soon to be all-star Harden, I am all out again for my Rockets!

    • JLIN2 says:

      Who cares?

    • Average Joe says:

      Good for you bro.

      • Rastaman says:

        Wagonist, you should be supporting your team through thin times also, that when they need to be supported the most.

    • MHM 35 says:

      Yeah bro you kinda just proved how much of a fairweather fan you are.

    • THUNDER vs HEAT finals rematch says:

      Harden is a trader. He in no way is worth that kind of money. Rockets will get raped by all the tough teams and will not even make the playoffs. I’m glad he left…..he choked in the finals last year. He looked like a highschooler. He did have some awesome games though I’m not gonna take that from him….but off the bench is where he shines. Hes good enough to start for a mediocore team for sure but he def chose the wrong path. He chose money over getting a ring. I can’t wait to watch him try to hang with OKC’s starters….good times.

      • THUNDER vs HEAT finals rematch says:

        I wanna see 37 points against OKC or LA(clippers not the overrated overpaid lakers), or Heat. He will be lucky to get his jersey number. Time to shave “the beard” cause okc fans made that famous. Shave trader

      • dang man you are being a major hater right now. Do something else with your time