James Harden called Kevin McHale “a clown” on Saturday. This was because McHale had dared question the leadership of the Rockets’ 28-year-old guard, who has the richest contract in NBA history, and no Finals appearances yet in Houston.
McHale, who coached Harden for a few years in Houston, criticized Harden for his lazy defense, a charge nobody can earnestly dispute. James Harden doesn’t try hard on defense, and everybody knows that.
"“James is not a leader,” McHale said. “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. “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 (Charles Barkley), you got to play better D,’ are you listening to him? You got to be kidding me. I lived through it believe me … every time he mentioned defense everybody would put their head down like ‘you got to be kidding me.’ ”"
OK, well, James Harden doesn’t have to like that, and if he wanted to take a shot at Kevin McHale, there is a .556 winning percentage as a coach that provides some ammunition. But then again, that lone conference Finals appearance Harden has experienced in Houston came with McHale as the coach.
But that’s all sort of beside the point. McHale isn’t the Rockets coach anymore, but he is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame, he was named to the 50 Greatest Players list in 1996, his jersey has been retired by the Boston Celtics, he has three NBA championship rings, and he’s been in or around the NBA in some capacity for 37 years.
If Kevin McHale is a clown, what does that make James Harden?
That’s a Trumpian response by Harden to some legitimate criticism made by a man who really, really knows what he’s talking about.
Harden, on the other hand, still has a lot to prove.