James Harden Referendum will last all season

COMMENTARY — Former Thunder standout James Harden returns to OKC on Wednesday. But one game will not determine if the trade was a success or a failure.
by Berry Tramel Published: November 27, 2012
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photo - Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, left, and newly acquired guard James Harden pose for photographers at an NBA basketball news conference, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Houston. Morey officially introduced Harden on Monday. Harden joined Houston in a stunning trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) ORG XMIT: TXPS102
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, left, and newly acquired guard James Harden pose for photographers at an NBA basketball news conference, Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, in Houston. Morey officially introduced Harden on Monday. Harden joined Houston in a stunning trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday night. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) ORG XMIT: TXPS102

Who knows how the Iowa caucus will go? Harden could go off for 40 points; wouldn't surprise anyone. He could go 4-for-19, trying to do too much in front of the fans who loved him so.

Either way — and expect something in between — it means nothing in the grand scheme. The Thunder season will be determined by the NBA Finals. If OKC repeats as West champ, it's a successful season. If OKC does not, it's a disappointing year.

And the Thunder winning the West will be determined by four more months of acclimation with Circle K and Eric Maynor and Hasheem Thabeet. Determined by how soon a Hardenless roster becomes the old effective but the new normal.

“I think we're kind of in the norm right now,” Westbrook said. “We're definitely still learning each other's game. Trying to get better. But we're at ease with each other.”

So Thunder-Rockets on a sleepy November night does not reach massive import. But it is grand theater.

“No, it's not another game,” Brooks deadpanned. “I want to beat the Rockets. They traded me in the second championship year (1995). Took me five years to get over Rudy Tomjanovich.”

Brooks was being funny. But he also was being instructive. Trades happen. Players, even stars, can get shipped. Wilt Chamberlain was dealt twice in his prime. Makes the Harden-Martin swap, much less this Harden-Martin showdown, a little less cataclysmic.

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at (405) 760-8080 or at btramel@opubco.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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