A wide-ranging set of questions and answers during former Thunder guard James Harden's media session with reporters Friday afternoon in Houston.
Q: What's it like having the All-Star Game in the city you play in?
A: “It's great, especially with this being my first time. It makes it that much more special. I'm just going to enjoy it and have fun with it.”
What does it mean to be together again with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant?
“Smiles. Jokes. Memories. All of the above. We're just having a good time. As soon as I saw them it was just all smiles.”
Is it strange being back on the same team as Westbrook and Durant?
“Nah, it's not strange. It was strange when I played in Oklahoma City. When I was in a Houston uniform playing in Oklahoma City, that was strange. This will be more jokes and smiling and just enjoying each other's company.”
How special is your relationship with Durant and Westbrook?
“It's very special. We were together all summer, in London, having fun, laughing. And then we got split up. But we're back together and it seems like we never left each other. We're brothers. Simple as that. We're always going to be brothers.”
When you first got that call that you made the All-Star team, what was that feeling like for you?
“I just started yelling and going crazy. Last year, I was pretty close to making the All-Star team. But just to hear my name called, it was a great individual accomplishment.”
Would you describe sitting here as an All-Star as your “Mama-I-made-it” moment?
What would that be?
“Winning a gold medal.”
How do you feel that you've evolved as a leader?
“I would say I've done a pretty good job thus far, better than what I've expected. It's my first time being in this role of having an entire organization behind me. So it's a lot of things that I have to learn.”
How did the run you had last year with the Thunder help you with Houston?
A: “I learned a lot, especially from those guys in Oklahoma City. The Finals helped me a lot as well, playing on the highest stage of basketball you can get to. And being in the Olympics with all those great players kind of helped me out as a leader and as a basketball player. So when I got traded I tried to bring all those things with me and spread them out to my teammates and coaches.”
Was it tough when the trade happened?
“It was. But a couple of weeks into it I kind of said this is my team now and this is my city so I got to figure out a way to make it happen?”
How is your ankle, and how do you feel it'll be by Sunday?
“Pretty good. It's getting better. The swelling went down and I'm moving a lot better so hopefully by Sunday it'll be ready. I'll be able to do the things I want to do.”
What do you expect from the Rockets in the last half of the season?
“We're definitely in a good position right now. With 20-plus games left, we're in a good position to make the playoffs. In order to do that, every game is going to be tough. It's going to be like a playoff game every game.”
How has winning Olympic gold changed the way people looked at you?
“It's definitely changed. A lot more recognition. My teammates definitely look to me as the guy to make plays just because they know my past of being in the Finals and being an Olympian. And I'm fine with that role.”
Who in the NBA do you feel has the most style?
“Excluding myself? I like what Russell does. Not everything he does, but I like most of the stuff he does. Dwyane Wade, I like the majority of the things he does.”
Who should step up their style?
“A lot of guys. I'm not going to say names. But a lot of players.”
What's one thing James Harden could beat Michael Jordan at?
“Video games, for sure. I definitely could beat MJ in video games. Maybe some pool. A couple of other things I probably could beat him at. I don't know about golf.”
Lent started on Wednesday. What would be extremely tough for you to give up for 40 days?
“Video games. No video games for 40 days, I'd probably have a heart attack.”
COMPILED BY DARNELL MAYBERRY