James Harden doesn’t seem to accept the comments made by his former coach, Kevin McHale, regarding his leadership. In fact, considering the severity of Harden’s comments on the matter, it’s easy to say that Harden straight-up denies McHale’s assessment.
It may even have gotten under his skin a bit.
For context, McHale, who coached the Rockets from 2011-12 to 2015-16, recently praised Harden’s talent level, but he said he does not think the Houston star is a leader.
Here’s exactly what he said, per ESPN.com:
“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.”
Harden “clapped back”, as the kids say, and he certainly didn’t hold back when discussing his former head coach.
“Honestly, he’s never taught me anything,” Harden said. “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 obviously be a better basketball player but be a leader as well. To go on air and downplay my name like that, it shows his character. I usually don’t go back on forth on social media with anybody or with interviews, but it’s time to stand up for myself and there it is. You just don’t go and do that, it shows what type of person he is.”
Harden was asked if he thinks McHale is bitter, presumably about losing his coaching gig, and Harden felt that was the case. He also called his former coach “a clown”, which wasn’t shown on tape but per reporters there, it happened.
Some may expect Harden to take the high road in this situation, but at this point, what does he have to lose? He’s one of the top players in the league — a five-time All Star — and he’s on a team that could contend with the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference now that Chris Paul has joined the squad.
If he feels he needs to protect his name as a leader, more power to him. Though current Houston head coach Mark D’Antoni may not be too thrilled about it. Because who knows? He may be next on the call out list if things don’t go well.