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James Harden receives boos, cheers in return to Houston for Nets-Rockets (video)

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone and Nets star James Harden

HOUSTON, TEXAS - MARCH 03: James Harden #13 of the Brooklyn Nets meets with Houston Rockets general manaer Rafeal Stone at Toyota Center on March 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

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Rockets fans built a connection with James Harden over eight good years. He still cares about the community.

But he also had an ugly exit from Houston. That made him a basketball villain. Not a bad person. But as a character in the Rockets’ basketball story, Harden became detested by some in Houston.

So, he unsurprisingly received a mixed reception in his return with the Nets tonight.

Adam Wexler of SportsTalk 790:

Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press:

It’s a bummer this game happened with limited fan attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic. Return games can have such great atmosphere. It’s always fun to see whether players step up or wilt in that environment.

But the moment is passing.

Eventually, as time heals the wound of his departure, Harden will again become beloved in Houston.