James Harden arrives in L.A., welcomed in Clippers’ locker room
Upon James Harden’s arrival in Los Angeles, he received a warm welcome in the Clippers’ locker room. Shortly after James Harden and P.J. Tucker entered their new locker room with the LA Clippers, Russell Westbrook greeted his former Houston Rockets teammates with a handshake and a heartfelt embrace.
While the proposed trade between the Clippers and Philadelphia 76ers hadn’t yet been officially confirmed as of late Tuesday evening in L.A., Harden and Tucker were greeted with open arms by the Clippers the moment they stepped out of their SUV at the Crypto.com Arena loading dock.
Team president Lawrence Frank was present to welcome both players and guide them to the Clippers’ locker room. Shortly afterward, team owner Steve Ballmer came over to extend his warm greetings to Harden and Tucker.
While Clippers coach Ty Lue and players Kawhi Leonard and Westbrook refrained from commenting on the trade until it was official, Westbrook hinted at his approval. He said, “Right now, James and P.J. are off-limits. I can’t say anything until it’s official,” wearing a smile and a playful grin after the LA Clippers defeated the Orlando Magic 118-102 on Tuesday night.
When asked if his smile indicated his happiness despite not being able to discuss the deal, Westbrook left no room for doubt, repeatedly saying, “Yeah. I mean, why wouldn’t I be? Yeah, excuse my language, but I’m definitely, definitely happy.”
Before the game, in the locker room, Westbrook and Harden were reunited. The two had previously played together with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Rockets. Westbrook deviated from his usual pregame routine to joke with Harden, suggesting he stay on the other side of the locker room, where Harden’s new locker was situated.
Eventually, Tucker and Harden sat near Westbrook and Paul George to catch up for over an hour before they took on the Magic.
When asked by a reporter in the locker room how excited he was, Harden’s response was simple yet emphatic, “You don’t understand.”
As he walked into the locker room, Harden also sang along to “You Dropped a Bomb on Me” by The Gap Band, which was playing in the nearby trainer’s room.
It was expected that the trade would be made official on Wednesday, but Harden and Tucker were unlikely to suit up for that evening’s game against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following Wednesday’s game, the Clippers had a four-day break before embarking on a three-game road trip against the New York Knicks on Monday. These four days were planned as an impromptu training camp to integrate Harden and Tucker into the team