NBA superstars who are starting over usually play in their first game with their new teams like they have something to prove.
(Photo : Rich Schultz/Getty Images) NEW YORK, NEW YORK – James Harden (#1) of the LA Clippers moves the ball against the New York Knicks during the third quarter of a game at Madison Square Garden on November 6, 2023 in New York City. The Knicks defeated the Clippers 111-97.
All eyes were on James Harden on Monday as he debuted for the Los Angeles Clippers, who traded for him after his relationship with Daryl Morey and the Philadelphia 76ers went sour.
His first outing as a Clip was below average, at least based on his standard. The Clippers lost the game by double digits, and Harden only put up 17 points, three rebounds, and six assists.
He also played 32 minutes despite coach Tyronne Lue’s comments that his minutes will be managed.
Fans thought this debut was menial compared to how he did in his previous teams after the Oklahoma City Thunder let go of him in 2011.
1. Houston Rockets in 2012 versus Detroit Pistons – Win
His and Rockets’ fruitful relationship started on October 27 when he steered his team to a victory over the Detroit Pistons. He scored 37 points and put up a career-high 12 assists, six rebounds, four steals, and one block. This was Harden’s test if he was a starter, and later on, he was crowned Sixth Man of the Year with the Rockets. Morey regarded him as a foundational player after this.
2. Brooklyn Nets vs Orlando Magic in 2021 – Win
Harden became dissatisfied with the Rockets always coming up short. For that, he was traded to the Brooklyn Nets to join two other superstars, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. His debut was also historic and sensational.
He put up a triple-double with 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 14 assists in a 122-115 win over the Magic. He became just the seventh player to debut with a triple-double then.
3. Philadelphia 76ers against Minnesota Timberwolves – Win
Harden’s time with the Brooklyn Nets did not last long, and he was traded again mid-season to the Sixers.
His first game was again sensational as he recorded a near triple-double: 27 points, 12 assists, and eight rebounds. He followed that up in the next game with astronomical numbers: points, a season-high 16 assists, 10 rebounds, and five steals.