Harden helps West win in first All-Star Game
James Harden walked out of the interview room in the bowels of the Toyota Center with a smile before he walked a little farther to greet some fans and sign some autographs.
Harden walked along the line of children, shook hands and signed whatever they had to offer.
That was pretty much his role for the past several days: meet and greet. As the only Rockets’ All-Star, Harden became the unofficial host of the weekend.
On Sunday, he finally got to play in his first All-Star Game and he helped the Western Conference take down the Eastern Conference 143-138.
After one big three in the second half, Harden struck a pose, crouching low to the ground pointing three fingers of his right hand to the ground.
It's pretty safe to say he had some fun.
“It felt good to go out there and just play with all those great players, it was my first time,” Harden said. “I just tried to make as many shots as possible. I couldn’t make a layup but I got a couple threes to fall, so it felt good.”
Harden finished with 15 points. He made three three-pointers. He also had six rebounds and three assists. But more importantly, he was able to play 26 minutes and come out of the game with a healthy ankle.
“It feels good, real good,” Harden said about his ankle after the game.
Harden listed himself as day-to-day and it wasn’t determined that he would play until shortly before the game tipped off.
“It was a very special weekend, it being in Houston,” Harden said. “Just all the fun times and laughs, the NBA Cares events, the Saturday night activities, all the appearances, meeting different people. Just the game tonight, summed it up.”
Part of being the host meant that Harden got a chance to welcome his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook into his new city. Durant told the media he missed Harden. Harden said Durant told him again in the locker room.
The feeling was mutual.
“I miss those guys as well, just being with them every day,” Harden said. “When you leave someone you’re definitely going to miss them. This weekend was good for us, just to catch up on good times.”