James Harden has ripped his old coach Kevin McHale, who criticised Harden’s leadership abilities during an episode of NBA TV’s Open Court this week.
McHale didn’t hold back in his initial criticism of Harden, stating Chris Paul’s leadership would tremendously benefit the Rockets, before saying this:
“James is not a leader. He tried being a leader last year, tried doing 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. But 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, ‘Chuck, you’ve got to play better D,’ are you listening to him? Like, you’ve got to be kidding me! I lived through it, believe me everybody in the locker room did this [forehead slap]. Every time he’d mention defense everybody would [forehead slap], like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me’.”
— NBA TV (@NBATV) October 6, 2017
McHale’s criticism was pointed but delivered between laughs and in the light-hearted tone Open Court is known for.
But if you were expecting Harden to return serve with smiles and laughter, you’d be sorely mistaken.
The agitated Rockets star discussed the topic with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon on Saturday, and he didn’t hold back.
“He’s a clown, honestly. 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 when you’re here, you’re face to face and you’re telling me one thing — how great of a player you are, how you’re lucky that he’s able to be a part of this process — and then you go back just a few years later and basically just say the opposite, it just shows your character, shows who you really are.”
Harden clearly took that one to heart, and it’s hard to know if it struck a nerve because he knows there’s at least a little truth to McHale’s criticisms, or because he genuinely regards it is as 100 per cent false slander.
Either way, the best way to get back at his old coach is to prove him wrong on the court, starting on opening night against the Warriors.