Kevin McHale Says Calling Him Names Won’t Change His Opinion Of James Harden

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The Kevin McHale-James Harden beef doesn’t look to be winding down any time soon. On a recent episode of Open Court, the former Rockets coach didn’t pull any punches when discussing Houston ‘s acquisition of Chris Paul, saying quite simply that Harden isn’t a leader and that he’ll benefit from having Paul around to take up the reigns in that department.

Harden, of course, took exception to that assessment, calling McHale “a clown” and blaming the Celtics legend for never nurturing his leadership abilities.

McHale was back on the air with TNT’s Inside the NBA crew on Friday night for the Rockets’ preseason finale against the Spurs when the conversation inevitably circled back to his recent tiff with his former player. To his credit, McHale didn’t try to walk back his previous comments.

“Calling me names is not going to change my opinion of what I saw when I was there,” McHale said. “It’s hard to have a lot of credibility when you don’t play good defense. It’s hard to say ‘let’s get stops’ when people are looking at you saying ‘please stay in front of somebody.'”

McHale went on to reiterate his myriad praises for various aspects of Harden’s game but insisted that Paul’s presence will take up the slack left by Harden’s lack of vocal presence. Isiah Thomas, who was also on the panel, agreed with McHale for the most part but was also careful to point out that there’s different types of leadership styles.

Rest assured that the media will ask Harden for a retort, so it’ll be interesting to see whether the Rockets’ All-Star guard will perpetuate this feud or put it to rest.