James Edward Harden, Jr. (born August 26, 1989) is an American professional basketball player who currently plays for the Houston Rockets of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Harden played college basketball for Arizona State, where he was named a consensus All-American and Pac-10 Player of the Year in 2009. Harden was selected with the third overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft by Oklahoma City and became the first player drafted in Oklahoma City Thunder franchise history. In 2012, he was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year with the Oklahoma City Thunder while helping them reach the NBA Finals. Harden was traded to Houston prior to the 2012–13 NBA season. Upon joining the Rockets, Harden became one of the NBA’s most prolific scorers and earned recognition as the best shooting guard in the NBA, as well as one of the top overall players in the league. He has earned All-Star nods three times, and has earned All-NBA Team honors three times as well – once to the All-NBA third team (2013) and twice to the All-NBA first team (2014 and 2015). In 2015, Harden was awarded the first National Basketball Players Association MVP Award, being voted by his peers as the league’s most valuable player.
On August 3, 2015, the sports apparel company, Adidas, submitted an endorsement deal to Harden worth $200 million over the next 13 years. Harden is a two-time member of the United States national basketball team, winning gold medals in both the 2012 Summer Olympics and 2014 FIBA World Cup.
To begin the season, the Rockets lost their first three games, before winning four straight, then going on another three-game losing streak to end up 4–6 after 10 games. All three runs were reflective in the shooting accuracy of Harden. Over the first three losses, he shot 12-of-54 from the field (22%); over the four-game winning streak, he shot 45-of-97 (46%); and then over the succeeding three-game losing streak, he shot 22-of-62 (35%).
On November 18, head coach Kevin McHale was fired after the Rockets began the season with a 4–7 record. Later that night, Harden recorded 45 points and 11 assists in a 108–103 overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers. On November 25, he recorded his fourth 40-point game of the season in a loss to the Memphis Grizzlies, dropping to 5–10 overall and 1–3 under interim coach J. B. Bickerstaff. Two days later, he recorded his third career 50-point game in a 116–114 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. On January 13, in his 492nd game, he scored 27 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves to reach 10,000 career points. On January 20, he recorded his first triple-double of the season and seventh of his career with 33 points, a career-high 17 rebounds and 14 assists in a 123–114 loss to the Detroit Pistons. He became the first player to have those numbers in a game since Wilt Chamberlain had 53 points, 32 rebounds and 14 assists on March 18, 1968. Four days later, he recorded second triple-double of the season with 23 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists in a 115–104 win over the Dallas Mavericks. On February 2, he scored 26 points and tied a career-high with 14 assists as the Rockets snapped a three-game skid with a 115–102 win over the Miami Heat. On March 22, he recorded 24 points, a career-high 16 assists and seven rebounds in a 111–107 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Three days later, he recorded his third triple-double of the season with 32 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in a 112–109 win over the Toronto Raptors. In March 2015, Harden recorded 457 points, 152 assists and 102 rebounds, becoming the first player to record at least 450 points, 150 assists and 100 rebounds in a single month since Oscar Robertson did so December 1967. On April 7, he tied a 38-year-old record for most turnovers in a season by committing his 366th turnover against the Phoenix Suns. He surpassed that record three days later against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Rockets scrapped into the postseason with a 41–41 record and an eighth-seeded finish. Harden completed the regular season with career high marks in points (29), assists (7.5) and rebounds (6.1) to join LeBron James, Michael Jordan and Oscar Robertson as the only players in NBA history to average at least 29 points, seven assists and six rebounds in a season.
Down 2–0 to the first-seeded Golden State Warriors in the first round of the playoffs, Harden scored 35 points in Game 3 in Houston, including the game-winner with 2.7 seconds left to lift the Rockets to a 97–96 win. The Rockets went on to lose the series in five games despite Harden’s best efforts with 35 points in a Game 5 blowout loss.
On July 9, 2016, Harden signed a four-year, $118.1 million contract extension with the Rockets. In September 2016, new Rockets head coach Mike D’Antoni announced that Harden would switch to the point guard position for the 2016–17 season. In the Rockets’ season opener on October 26, Harden recorded 34 points, a career-high 17 assists and 8 rebounds in a 120–114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, becoming just the second player in NBA history to record at least 30 points and 15 assists in an opener; Tim Hardaway had 32 and 18 for the Golden State Warriors in 1990. On November 1, he scored a season-high 41 points and had 15 assists in a 128–120 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. On November 7, he had his fourth straight 30-10 game with 32 points and 15 assists in a 114–106 win over the Washington Wizards
Career highlights and awards
4× NBA All-Star (2013–2016)
2× All-NBA First Team (2014, 2015)
All-NBA Third Team (2013)
NBA Sixth Man of the Year (2012)
NBA All-Rookie Second Team (2010)
Consensus first-team All-American (2009)
Pac-10 Player of the Year (2009)
2× First-team All-Pac-10 (2008, 2009)
No. 13 retired by Arizona State
Gold medal – first place 2012 London Team
Gold medal – first place 2014 Spain Team