James Harden says Kevin McHale didn’t teach him about leadership

Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images /

James Harden responds to Kevin McHale for saying that he lacked leadership qualities.

Kevin McHale, former player and coach turned analyst, was asked how Chris Paul would fit on the Houston Rockets. Although McHale is a former Rockets coach, the basketball legend didn’t hold anything back when he spoke about his former team, especially when speaking about James Harden.

McHale talked about Harden’s greatness, and specifically complimented the superstar on his ability to pass the ball. But then things got a little personal.

McHale said that James Harden was not a leader, and he said that Harden’s voice didn’t carry a lot of weight in the locker room, specifically when he talked about playing better defense.

Of course, James Harden didn’t agree with Kevin McHale’s hot take, and he had a few choice words for his former coach, via ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.

“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.”

Harden went on to explain that McHale’s criticism showed a lack of character.

“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.”

James Harden’s response was not out of line

The Houston Rockets have had a marvelous offseason, so this sort of back and forth is definitely a negative distraction during an otherwise positive time for the organization. But I can’t blame James Harden for standing up for himself.

Most NBA stars are criticized from all angles. Every action or inaction is examined under a microscope. Harden can certainly take criticism, but he reacted because he felt like he was attacked personally.

If Kevin McHale never told Harden that he lacked leadership qualities when he coached the Rockets, than he should’ve never said it on television. In the NBA, there’s an unwritten rule that all members of a team should keep certain things inside of the locker room.

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Sure, McHale isn’t apart of the Rockets organization anymore, but his comments seemed like a stab in the back. You can’t talk to an individual one way to their face, and then speak about them in a different manner behind their back, especially when you’re on national television.