Kevin Martin understands what James Harden is going through

Thunder guard went from being ‘The Man' in Sacramento to playing a supporting role in Houston and OKC. Now, Harden returns to OKC as ‘The Man' in Houston.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: November 27, 2012
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photo - Oklahoma City's Kevin Martin (23) shoots the ball beside Toronto's Amir Johnson (15) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Toronto Raptors at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012.  Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Oklahoma City won 108-88. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma City's Kevin Martin (23) shoots the ball beside Toronto's Amir Johnson (15) during an NBA basketball game between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Toronto Raptors at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012. Oklahoma City won 108-88. Photo by Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

If anyone understands what James Harden is feeling these days, it's Kevin Martin.

Martin used to be Harden. Used to enjoy exactly what the former Thunder favorite has now.

“Oh, it's great,” Martin said of being the so-called man. “You wake up happy every morning.”

Of course, there was a catch.

“You just hope the team is successful,” Martin said, “because it makes your mornings easier to wake up. And you hope you have great teammates to guide you through the tough times.”

Harden returns to Oklahoma City on Wednesday night. He's not just a member of the Houston Rockets. He's now “The Man” on the Rockets.

“It's a big step in your career,” Martin said.

It is perhaps what Harden wanted all along, in addition to the most money possible. He got both but had to leave the team that drafted him and the only NBA city he's ever known to get it. Consequently, the Thunder last month traded Harden, Cole Aldrich, Daequan Cook and Lazar Hayward to Houston in exchange for Martin, rookie Jeremy Lamb and three draft picks.

On Wednesday night, at roughly 7:10 p.m., Harden will play in Chesapeake Energy Arena for the first time as a visitor.

“He's going to be hit with a lot of emotions, especially the closer it gets to tip-off,” Martin said. “The fans, they love him here. He had success. And it should be a good welcoming for him.”

Martin spent 3½ years as “The Man” in Sacramento. He averaged 22.2 points during his 214-game tenure as the Kings' top scorer. That stretch included a career-high 24.6-point average in 2008-09.

He had established himself as one of the most lethal scorers in the league, but Martin was growing more frustrated with losing. The Kings were 88 games under .500 while Martin was their top scorer.

And so 54 games into the 2009-10 season, Sacramento shipped Martin to Houston. He toiled in relative obscurity with the Rockets for another 2½ seasons — despite averaging 21.3 points over his 144 games — before being traded to the Thunder.

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by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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