There’s no love lost between James Harden and his former head coach.
Kevin McHale, who coached Harden for parts of four seasons with the Houston Rockets, recently was critical of the star guard, saying Harden “is not a leader”
Harden not only disagrees with McHale’s sentiments, but he believes the Pro Basketball Hall of Famer didn’t do anything to help him progress as a leader during his time as Rockets coach.
“He’s a clown, honestly,” Harden said, per ESPN’s Tim McMahon. “I did anything and everything he asked me to do. I’ve tried to lead this team every day since I stepped foot here in Houston. To go on air and just downplay my name, when honestly he’s never taught me anything to be a leader.
” … But I’ve done a great job. The organization, my coaches, you can ask any of those guys how I’ve worked extremely hard every single day to better (myself), obviously as a basketball player, but be a leader as well. To go on air and downplay my name like that, it just shows his character. I usually don’t go back and forth on social media with anybody or with interviews, but I’m going to stand up for myself, and there it is. But you just don’t go and do that. It shows what type of person he is.”
Harden significantly improved as a leader last season, finishing second in the NBA MVP voting and leading the Rockets to the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference. While McHale has no gripes with Harden’s on-court talent, he believes the five-time All-Star doesn’t have the strongest voice in the locker room.
“James can see all the passes and do everything, but James is not a leader,” McHale said. “He tried being a leader last year, tried doing all that stuff. I think Chris Paul is going to help him just kind of get back into just being able to hoop and play and stuff like that.
“On every team, you have to have a voice. On every team, you have to have somebody that when they say something, people listen. Like if James tells you, ‘You’ve got to play better D,’ are you going to listen to him? I lived through it. Believe me, everybody in the locker room did this: (put their head down with their hand on their forehead). Every time he mentioned defense, everybody would put their head down.”
McHale’s notion might have been true during his tenure as Rockets coach, but it seems like times have changed in H-Town.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images