Kevin McHale, who spent three-plus seasons as James Harden's head coach with the Houston Rockets, says that although the superstar guard is a "phenomenal basketball player," he lacks leadership.
"James is not a leader," McHale said in a clip shared by NBA TV on Twitter Friday morning. "He tried being a leader last year, tried doing that stuff. I think (the Rockets' offseason addition of star point guard) Chris Paul is going to help him just kind of get back into just being able to hoop and play and stuff like that. But on every team you have to have a voice. On every team you have to have somebody that, when they say something, people listen."
McHale, a Hall of Famer who won three championships with the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, spent a little over four seasons on the sidelines for the Rockets before being relieved of his head-coaching duties 11 games into the 2015-16 season. Though the Rockets were mostly successful with McHale and Harden at the helm, advancing to the 2015 Western Conference finals, the two clashed at times due to Harden's effort on the defensive end of the floor — something McHale has been publicly critical of since his firing.
"If James tells you, 'Chuck, you've got to play better D,' you listening to him? You've got to be kidding me," McHale said. "I lived through it, believe me. Everybody in the locker room (put their head in their hands). ... I just think Chris Paul will be good for James Harden. It will allow him to just be what he is, which is a phenomenal basketball player, (but) not trying to lead a team. That's just not his personality."