Houston Rockets star James Harden caused a stir yesterday when he appeared at the Kaohsiung City Youth Basketball Court.
Harden, a first-time NBA all-star this year, whose popularity in Taiwan has soared since teaming up with fellow Rocket Jeremy Lin, the first NBA player of Taiwanese descent, arrived in Greater Kaohsiung earlier in the day for a three-day visit.
The 24-year-old shooting guard responded enthusiastically to his screaming fans, performing an impromptu robotic dance in the paint to the accompaniment of lively music.
Harden coached members of the High-School Basketball League (HBL) in the Euro step, which helps players attack the basket, and the drop step, which helps players on the post break free from defenders.
At the end of the rare one-hour training session, Harden presented autographed basketball shoes for the two HBL players who got top scores in two rounds of a shooting contest.
Kao Chien-yi, one of the winners, said he felt nervous at the start playing in front of a big NBA star.
“I felt more at ease after seeing Harden doing his robotic dancing to entertain his fans,” Kao said, adding that he was impressed by Harden’s good rapport with the fans.
Before his departure, Harden gave away four signed basketballs.
He later traveled to the Love River to watch a dragon boat race being held to mark the Dragon Boat Festival.
He held a chat session with Taiwanese fans on Google+ yesterday evening.
Harden will play with Taiwan’s national basketball team in Taipei today before departing tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Lin is scheduled to visit Taiwan in August. It will be the third consecutive summer that Lin has hosted a youth basketball camp in Taiwan.
Local fans will be able to see Lin and Harden play together in Taipei on Oct. 13, when the Rockets are scheduled to encounter the Indiana Pacers in a warm-up game ahead of the opening of the 2013-2014 NBA season.