While he might not be a lifelong Houston Rocket, James Harden has become synonymous with the city of Houston these last few years. Not only is he the face of a team who has been a perennial contender as of late, but he embraces the city that has played host to his best years. Because of this, Harden has taken a liking to the community in a way that goes above beyond the sport he plays.
Houston and James Harden
Harden’s three years in Oklahoma City were, by all means, a success. He came in as the third pick overall from Arizona State, and while he might not have been an immediate success in the way that Durant was, he became a valuable piece coming off the bench as the Thunder began their rise to playoff contention and eventual title contention.
In Houston, however, Harden went from the league’s Sixth Man of the Year to perennial All-Star and eventual MVP. While there were some tumultuous first years in Houston with Dwight Howard an a variety of coaches, Harden’s recent stretch has proven that he is the biggest superstar the franchise has seen since Hakeem Olajuwon.
He has been a hit with fans and developed a loyal following throughout the city of Houston and beyond, but the relationship he has with the city he plays in is special in more ways than one.
James Harden’s impact on Houston
Houston has a loyal relationship with Harden, and Harden has given back to the community time and time again. In a recent act of charity, Harden donated $240,000 to the city of Houston for new basketball courts.
“Every day I wake up, I think about being legendary,” Harden said (per Rockets Wire).
“Being the best basketball player I can be on the court. But on the flipside of that, I think, ‘How can I can impact the world?’ Ultimately, I want to be a legend off the court as well, in the community.”
Harden wanted the kids of Houston to have the types of hoops he had to practice on growing up, and he wanted the courts that had been ravaged by Hurricane Harvey to be up to snuff so another generation of basketball players could rise up. This was on top of a $1M donation that Harden already gave to the city when the hurricane was fresh on everybody’s mind.
He might drive people crazy on the court, but off the court, Harden has proven to be a kind and generous soul. His giving back to the city of Houston doesn’t stop here, either.
Harden’s big investment
James Harden has also gotten into the Houston sports scene for the games he isn’t known for. He recently joined the ownership group of the Houston Dynamo and Houston Dash, the city’s local soccer clubs, and he voiced his excitement to be part of the group.
“Houston is my home now, and I saw this as a way to invest in my city and expand my business interests at the same time,” Harden said (per Chron).
“Soccer in general, and especially MLS, has exploded in this country throughout my lifetime. I’ve been a fan of the game for several years, and I know that Houston has a massive soccer fanbase, so it was an easy decision for me when this opportunity arose.”
Harden has found ways to give back to the community in more ways than the typical athlete can. He might be one of the league’s highest players, but he has no problem spending money and time to make sure that the people of Houston feel his love. Whether he plays out his career there or ends up somewhere else, Harden’s impact on the city will last long after he is gone.