After spending five years together in Houston as coach and player, Kevin McHale and James Harden are showing some insights to their former dynamic.

 

McHale arrived in Houston a year before Harden did and together they experienced some good success.

 

The Rockets became one of the West’s top tier teams while Harden elevated his game to MVP level.

 

Despite the success, the Rockets failed to reach the Finals were up 3-1 in a series versus the Golden State Warriors in 2015 that would have sent them to a Finals. However, the 3-1 blown series lead came to define the Kevin McHale era in Houston, where his teams failed to get it done when it mattered most.

 

Now, it’s easy to blame the coach, but as the best player and “Leader” of the team, blame had to be put on Harden as well. Those last three games of that series exposed Harden in a big way. His poor defense was already noted, but his 12 turnovers in game 7 and failure to fully show up really put a stain on both McHale and Harden respectively.

 

After one more season of disappointment, the Rockets had shown signs of imploding internally.

 

Coach-player disputes became public knowledge and it was clear that McHale had lost the team, especially its star player. This caused an early season change to be made where McHale was fired, thus ending his tenure in Houston.

 

So two years later, why is the association resurfacing.

 

Well, with McHale a part of the of the NBATV team now and a member of the media, it’s his “job” to give his opinion, even on the Rockets. With how things ended in Houston, there’s certainly still some bad blood that was bound to be let go on air at some point,

 

That point was last week. The network was doing a special team preview on the Rockets after they had just nabbed Chris Paul in free agency and naturally the question came up as to how Harden would fare with another primary ball handler, being that he played the point guard position last year and had the best year of his career.

 

(Bleacher Report)

When it got to McHale, he didn’t hold back. McHale, in summation, alluded to Harden’s lack of leadership now being masked by the presence of Paul, one of the best leaders in the game of basketball. As he elaborated on the comment, McHale referenced Harden’s lack of defense and effort as the main causes of the snub. He explained how although he was superior offensively, Harden’s lack of want to on defense and lack of effort on that end prohibited him from being the leader that the team needed. He explained how Harden is more of a quiet guy who’s effort is paid more of the offensive side of the ball in comparison to Paul who gets it done on both ends of the floor and is the type of guy who will get in the face of his teammates and motivate them to success.

 

Obviously, Harden didn’t take kindly to these words, calling McHale a clown and completely showing no signs of respect to his former coach.

 

So I have to ask: who’s right and who’s wrong?

 

Well, in a way both have a point.

 

It’s easy to comment on Harden’s lack of defense as it was a running basketball joke about how little attention he paid to it in the last. However, last year, Harden stepped it up on that end of the floor and it resulted in great success for himself and the Rockets. So, while McHale is right in the sense that while he coached Harden, the Effort wasn’t there, there’s no way he could say that about Harden last season where his leadership qualities and effort on both ends shined through.

 

To me, I would never question a Hall of Famer’s knowledge on the game of basketball. Like I said, they experienced some good success in Houston that became overshadowed by that dreaded playoff series versus Golden State.

 

As a member of the media, McHale is entitled to his opinion, even if it does seem a little forced due to his personal experience with Harden.

 

I believe that Harden’s leadership skills greatly improved last season and now with Paul in the mix, it will allow him to focus more on the offensive side of things and lead by example, which is where he could shine the most.

 

This is just a case of bad blood between former player and coach finally shedding light. Nothing we have never seen before, right?

 

Do you think McHale should have made those comments about Harden? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.