JAMES Harden said he doesn’t mind taking the backseat at Houston with the arrival of All-Star center Dwight Howard, saying both of them share a common goal of trying to win an NBA championship.
Returning to Manila for the second time since 2011, the Rockets' All-Star guard believes the addition of the 6-11 Howard puts Houston in a better position to contend for the NBA title this coming season.
“I have a lot to improve on because I’m still young. But I’m also excited to have Dwight, the best big man in the NBA,” said Harden, who is in Manila, along with New Orleans Pelicans guard Eric Gordon to promote the NBA 3X Philippines.
Harden said he looks forward to working together with Howard, who chose to join Houston after spending a tumultuous, injury-riddled season with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers.
“Last year has been a down year for Dwight with injuries like that (shoulder), but this year, he’s hungry and definitely, his focus is on the ring. When we get to the training camp, I think we should be alright,” beamed Harden.
The former Sixth Man of the Year awardee is coming off a career-best season with Houston where he averaged 25.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.8 steals, and 38.3 minutes (38.3 mpg) a game. The Rockets pushed his former team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, to six games in the opening round of the playoffs.
Harden, who’ll be playing in the Rockets-Indiana Pacers NBA Global Games Philippines this October 10, first landed in Manila after being part of the Smart Ultimate All-Star Weekend in 2011.
The Arizona State product was part of the NBA stars led by Kobe Bryant, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant and Chris Paul that played two exhibition games against a PBA selection and the Gilas team handled by then national coach Rajko Toroman.