April 23, 2024

Los Angeles Clippers’ James Harden latest to face fans’ wrath

On Wednesday evening, James Harden made his return to Wells Fargo Center because the LA Clippers confronted the Philadelphia 76ers.

Harden spent a season and a half with the 76ers earlier than being traded to the Clippers in October 2023. He requested a commerce through the 2023 offseason and later called 76ers president Daryl Morey a liar after not being traded initially.

Philadelphia followers welcomed him as solely they might — booing Harden closely throughout introductions and each time he touched the ball. They additionally cheered throughout his missed photographs.

If we had been to embrace each contentious homecoming in sports activities, this text would drag longer than the aforementioned awkward encounter together with your ex. Instead, we’ll simply regale you with a few of the most memorable ones over time.

LeBron James in Cleveland, 2010

LeBron James went from being hailed as a hero to jeered as a villain faster than the writers of “Game of Thrones.”

The setting was nothing in need of combative as James returned to Cleveland for the primary time as a member of the Miami Heat. The emotions of betrayal, disappointment and vitriol directed at him had been tangible within the area — and within the metropolis as an entire.

LeBron hadn’t simply been the preferred sports activities determine in Cleveland, he was one in all their very own. So his departure for South Beach caused a special stage of anguish to the championship-starved metropolis that had its hopes and goals resting upon his shoulders.

The “kid from Akron” was showered in boos and obscenities from former followers. Some of them threw issues (together with drinks and a battery); others held indicators that includes issues equivalent to: “Quitness” and “Witnessed No Championship,” together with the extra easy “I Hate LeBron.” According to the group, 4 followers had been ejected and one was arrested that evening.

King James powered by way of the animosity to rating 38 factors en route to a 118-90 Heat win.

LeBron would go on to regain Cleveland’s love with a hard-earned Larry O’Brien Trophy in 2016.

Jack Eichel in Buffalo, 2022

Eichel, a Vegas Golden Knights ahead and former Buffalo Sabres captain, was traded in November 2022. He had zero factors in Vegas’ 3-1 loss on the KeyBank Center in March 2022 whereas being showered with boos from his former supporters.

The return journey was a bit different, except for the identical raucous refrain of boos.

Eichel had a hat trick within the Golden Knights’ 7-4 win over the Sabres. That prolonged Vegas’ win streak to 9 video games. This time, Eichel appeared to relish taking part in the heel.

“I think last year I didn’t know what to expect,” Eichel mentioned after the sport. “I had an emotional connection — I still do — to this city and these people. I came in this year knowing what I was going to get and the kind of reception. I just tried to use the energy.”

Bryce Harper in Washington, 2019

From favored son to public enemy No. 1. Bryce Harper, who left the Washington Nationals to signal a record-breaking 13-year, $330 million deal with their National League East rival Philadelphia Phillies in February 2019, did not garner an exceptionally heat welcome when he returned to Nationals Park for the primary time.

Fans showered him with boos throughout a pregame tribute video, then cheered loudly as ace Max Scherzer struck him out in his first at-bat. The heckling did not sit effectively with Harper as he known as followers out after the sport saying they “crossed the line.”

Some will argue this reception was petty as Harper merely went to the very best bidder; others will say loyalty ought to depend for one thing.

We’ll simply say this: The Nationals went on to win the World Series the season after he left.

Kevin Durant in Oklahoma City, 2017

Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: A sport to stay in NBA infamy. No departure had triggered such a ruckus across the Association since King James was hounded for “The Decision.”

You did not have to spend a lot time in OKC to see simply how a lot Kevin Durant meant to the town — the man even had a restaurant named after him (the institution closed within the wake of his departure however has since reopened with a special title and theme).

Subsequently, the welcome KD obtained was removed from pleasant. There had been deafening boos whereas he warmed up, when he was launched and every time he touched the ball on offense. There had been additionally cupcake indicators — so many cupcake indicators. Not to point out no less than one fan dressed as an precise cupcake.

To make issues worse, there was the messy divorce from his former teammate and buddy, Russell Westbrook, which added an entire different layer of animosity. Things received chippy between the ex-duo all through the sport and so they exchanged phrases on a number of events. At one level through the sport Westbrook might be seen yelling: “I’m coming!”

Durant received the final snigger, although, dropping 34 factors and grabbing 9 rebounds because the Warriors secured a dominant 130-114 victory. After the sport he commented on the persistent boos, saying: “I actually thought it would be a little louder, but it was fun.”

Deion Sanders in Atlanta, 1994

Deion Sanders, who performed for the Atlanta Falcons for 5 years, left the town outraged after signing with the San Francisco 49ers. There was extra in poor health will within the wake of his departure, as Falcons gamers claimed he demanded preferential therapy. They additionally mentioned “Prime Time” actually meant “Part Time” as a result of Sanders break up time between the Atlanta Braves and the Falcons.

This heated homecoming story was a bit dissimilar to the others: Rather than enduring the relentless ridicule throughout his return to the Georgia Dome, Sanders taunted the Falcons devoted.

That’s proper, Prime Time flipped the script. He placed on a present. It wasn’t sufficient to high-step the ultimate 40 yards into the tip zone on a 93-yard interception return, he determined to flip sideways and flash a giant ole grin towards the Atlanta bench for good measure.

The extra they booed, the extra he thrived (and danced).

The 49ers would go on to win 42-3.

Johnny Damon in Boston, 2006

All’s honest in love and baseball — apart from leaving the Boston Red Sox for the New York Yankees. You actually simply cannot do it. We imply, you’ll be able to, however you are going to get publicly reprimanded for it.

One of essentially the most heated rivalries in sports activities shouldn’t be one thing to be trifled with, simply ask Johnny Damon. The former Boston star was granted some leniency due to his involvement in bringing the Sox a World Series title, however the followers had been nonetheless fairly brutal in his return to Fenway Park.

Many of them opted to throw pretend and actual greenback payments on the warning monitor in heart when he took the sphere as an ode to his departure — he left to signal a four-year contract with New York that was price $12 million greater than what Boston supplied.

Damon drew further criticism for becoming a member of the Yankees in December 2005 after vowing earlier within the yr that “there’s no way I can go play for the Yankees, but I know they’re going to come after me hard. It’s definitely not the most important thing to go out there for the top dollar, which the Yankees are going to offer me. It’s not what I need.”

Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh, 2001

Jaromir Jagr gained two Stanley Cups as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, however he did not see a viable future as a Penguin, which left a bitter style within the mouths of many Pens followers. More than that, it was the way in which through which he departed from the franchise (asking to be traded twice) that prompted the barrage of boos every time he touched the puck whereas visiting Mellon Arena.

During the 2000-01 season, Jagr was going by way of a little bit of a stoop. That, mixed along with his rocky relationship with then head coach Ivan Hlinka, the return of Mario Lemieux from retirement, and the Penguins’ lack of ability to pay Jagr the large bucks, would in all probability have been sufficient trigger for each events to transfer on. But earlier than being traded to the Washington Capitals in 2001, he famously declared, “I feel like I’m dying alive. … I don’t feel comfortable here right now. It’s not the same for me right now. We’ll see what happens. Maybe I’m going to think about retirement pretty soon.”

While his menace to retire on the age of 28 was idle, it did not bode effectively for his relationship with the Penguins group or its fan base.

Alex Rodriguez in Seattle, 2001

Is it at all times about cash in baseball? That was a rhetorical query.

Similar to the tales of Harper and Damon, Alex Rodriguez’s departure from Seattle had to do with a pay day. Rodriguez, broadly thought of to be the perfect participant within the sport on the time, jilted the Seattle Mariners in favor of a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers through the offseason. At the time, it was essentially the most profitable contract in sports activities historical past.

The followers didn’t hesitate to voice their displeasure as Rodriguez got here up for his first at-bat as a Ranger. The boos at Safeco Field had been deafening — and chronic.

The sport led to a 9-7 Mariners victory.

Vince Carter in Toronto, 2005

Vince Carter’s relationship with Toronto has been an advanced one over time. On Dec. 17, 2004, the previous Raptors phenom was traded to the New Jersey Nets amid studies that he was displeased with Toronto’s higher administration. Rumors additionally circulated that he had stopped giving his all on the court docket.

It’s no shock that the considered Vinsanity quitting on the group didn’t go over effectively with the Raptors’ devoted. The underwhelming return from the commerce of Alonzo Mourning (who refused to report and was launched instantly), Aaron Williams, Eric Williams and two first-round draft picks solely added insult to damage.

When Carter made his first journey again to Toronto donning a New Jersey uniform on April 15, 2005, the sold-out crowd let him hear it with a gradual stream of boos and “V.C. sucks” chants.

Carter remained unfazed and went on to rating 39 factors because the Nets left city with a 101-90 victory. He would make a behavior of placing on spectacular performances in The Six for years to come.

Eric Lindros in Philadelphia, 2002

Eric Lindros performed eight seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers earlier than issues unraveled. On May 26, 2000, Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, an open-ice hit left him with the sixth concussion of his profession. Lindros was cleared to resume taking part in on Nov. 27, 2000, however he sat out the rest of the season and vowed by no means to play for the Flyers once more.

Lindros was then traded to the New York Rangers. Despite insisting that his qualms in Philadelphia had solely been with the proprietor and basic supervisor, Flyers followers did not take kindly to his actions and made positive he was effectively conscious when he returned to their house ice.

Terrell Owens in Philadelphia, 2006

Terrell Owens was embraced throughout his time with the Philadelphia Eagles, although as quickly as he signed with the Dallas Cowboys, the love rapidly turned to loathing. Fans united in widespread hatred for his or her former star, who had joined an NFC East rival.

Owens, who notoriously feuded with Philadelphia quarterback Donovan McNabb and criticized the group earlier than being launched by the Eagles and picked up by Dallas, obtained an ice-cold homecoming to Lincoln Financial Field. Though McNabb maintained that he was immune to the T.O. hoopla surrounding the extremely anticipated matchup, the town of Philadelphia was assuredly not.

The followers had emotionally invested in T.O, and thus they turned on him even more durable. Owens joked within the week main up to the sport that the gang was able to throwing “cheesesteaks, batteries, Huggies, anything” at him.

However, it by no means actually got here to that as T.O. by no means had an opportunity to gloat. The former Eagle was held to three catches for 45 yards in Philadelphia’s 38-24 win.

Ben Simmons in Philadelphia, 2022

Simmons was acquired from the 76ers in February of 2022 however was nonetheless in road garments when the Nets traveled to Philadelphia in March, solely dealing with his outdated group in late November.

While Simmons signed autographs for followers within the stands and performed effectively early on — placing up 11 factors, 11 assists, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and three blocks — the gang was profane and cruel, booing him consistently because the Nets fell to the Joel Embiid– and James Harden-less 76ers 115-106.

Johnny Gaudreau in Calgary, 2023

Johnny Gaudreau skilled that awkward sensation of working into an ex when the Columbus Blue Jackets confronted the Calgary Flames on the Scotiabank Saddledome in 2023.

After spending 9 seasons with the Flames, his first NHL group, Gaudreau left for the Blue Jackets regardless of an offer from his old team for eight years at a reported common annual worth of greater than $10 million per yr. The Flames devoted let him hear it in his first sport again, booing him mercilessly when he first touched the puck and cheering when he failed to convert a penalty shot in opening first interval. Gaudreau’s teammates did attempt to put together him for it by booing him throughout pregame warmups.