Ex-Rockets coach Kevin McHale: James Harden is 'not a leader'

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The comment soon made its way to Harden, who responded Saturday, calling McHale a "clown".

McHale, while being critical of the former Oklahoma City Thunder guard, had nice things to say about him as well.

The 59-year-old believes the arrival of Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers brings a commanding presence that will lighten the load on Harden.

The Hall of Famer spent five years with the Rockets before being fired in 2015 and claimed that the superstar guard didn't have the respect of his teammates as he only played on one end of the floor. Personality isn't necessarily central to leadership, is what I'm saying, and probably doesn't need to be broached in a discussion of why James Harden may not be ideally suited to the task of assuming leadership on an National Basketball Association team.

"We're using the same motto we used last year; 'So what, what's next.' We were successful with that last year and we'll try to do that again".

"He tried being a leader a year ago, tried doing all that stuff". On every team, you have to have somebody that when they say something, people listen. Chris Paul is not going to, you know, when he does that stab in the backcourt, doesn't get the foul, looking at the referee, not running back, Chris Paul is going to jump his butt. "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".

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James Harden is not shying away from his choice of words about former Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale.

McHale was sacked in November 2015 despite being only 11 games into a four-year, $12 million contract given to the coach in the wake of the Rockets' trip to the Western Conference finals the previous season.

But that's all sort of beside the point.

Harden went on to explain that McHale's criticism showed a lack of character. "You can ask any of those guys how I worked extremely hard every single day to, obviously, be a better basketball player, but to be a leader as well, defensively as well".

Current Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni was also asked for his thoughts on his predecessor's sharp criticism of his star player. I did anything and everything he asked me to do.

"All I can do is talk about my experience, and he's been unbelievably great", D'Antoni told ESPN's Tim MacMahon. I asked a lot of him a year ago. But I've done a great job, the organization, my coaches, you can ask any of those guys.... But, for sure, one of them will involve proving the haters wrong. "He's been great for me". I haven't seen any other side other than really, really positive.

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