Rockets' James Harden responds to Kevin McHale's recent criticism: 'He's a clown'

The situation between Kevin McHale and James Harden is escalating quickly. The former coach of the Houston Rockets said recently that while Harden is a great player, he lacks leadership ability. 

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

Harden's full comments:

"He's a clown. Honestly. I did anything and everything he asked me to do.

"Honestly, he's never taught me anything ... to be a leader. But I've done a great job. The organization, my coaches, you can ask any of those guys how I've worked extremely hard every single day to better ... obviously be a basketball player, but be a leader as well. There's different types of leaders as well.

"To go on air and downplay my name like that, it shows his character. I usually don't go back and forth on social media with anybody, or interviews, but I need to stand up for myself, and there it is. Just don't go and do that. It shows the type of person he is."

Reporter: "Do you think he's bitter?" 

Harden: "Sure. And I had nothing to do with it. You know I'm just here to do my job, compete at the highest level I can. But when you're hearing, and you're face to face, and you're telling me one thing, 'how great of a player you were,' how lucky that he's a part of this process, and then you go back a few years later and basically say the opposite, it shows your character, shows who you really are, and I'm not that type of person. I don't operate that way. I don't say things to somebody behind their back, or tell them one thing and then go on air and say another thing." 

While McHale did criticize Harden's leadership, the Hall of Famer was not wholly critical of the All-Star guard, praising his various abilities on the floor.

McHale's full comments: 

"I think it makes them a much better team because you had James Harden with the ball, he's fantastic with the ball – the guys got phenomenal vision, James can see all the passes and do everything but James is not a leader. He tried being a leader last year and doing that stuff, I think Chris Paul is going to help him do that stuff and get back to just hoop and play.

On every team you need to have a voice, you have to have somebody that when he says something, everybody listens. Look, if James tells you 'Chuck, you've got to play better [defense]!' Are you going to listen to him? You're kidding me! I lived through it, everybody in the locker room [shook their head]."

McHale coached Harden on the Rockets from 2012 until the start of the 2015-16 season, when he was fired just 11 games into the campaign.

Without knowing the details of the personal relationship between the two, this certainly seems to be a case of a previous issue bubbling up. McHale wasn't exactly scorching Harden with his comments.

Hopefully, the two will soon be able to meet and squash whatever issues exist between them. 

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