It started with Hall of Fame player and former Rockets’ coach Kevin McHale on NBA TV.
“James is not a leader. He tried being a leader last year and doing that stuff, I think Chris Paul is going to help him do that stuff and get back to just hoop and play. On every team you need to have a voice, you have to have somebody that when he says something, everybody listens. Look, if James tells you ‘Chuck, you’ve got to play better [defense]!’ Are you going to listen to him? You’re kidding me! I lived through it, everybody in the locker room [shook their head].”
“He’s a clown, honestly. I did everything and anything he asked me to do, I tried to lead this team every single day here since I set foot in Houston. To go out there and downplay my name when, honestly, he never taught me anything to be a leader.”
McHale was on the set again Friday night and was asked about his words on Harden, and he wasn’t backing down, saying “calling me names is not going to change my opinion.”
There is bad blood between these two, Harden didn’t like McHale as a coach and helped push him out the door (with three years left McHale’s contract, the man still got paid), and McHale still seems to harbor a grudge.
Harden is a leader in the sense other players look up to him, and as McHale said he organizes off-season workouts and more. He has a role. Is he an in-your-face during the game (or at halftime or whenever) kind of leader in the Kobe or Draymond Green mold? No. Does he need to be? No. He just needs to be who he is. His teammates respect that.
McHale is right about this: Chris Paul will be in guys faces, he will push them. That rubbed other Clippers the wrong way at times, but it might be a boost the Rockets need.
Now, can we move on from this back-and-forth between McHale and Harden? Thanks.