During halftime of the Houston Rockets’ 115-106 loss to the Golden State Warriors on Monday, Shaq had a few choice words for James Harden. The Rockets were only trailing 66-58 at the break, but he’d seen enough of Harden’s antics. During TNT‘s breakdown of the first half Shaq stated, “the problem with James Harden is he has no leadership skills,” according to Larry Brown Sports.
Speaking from experience as a leader of an NBA team, Shaq exposed Harden as a fraud. “I know for a fact as the main player, when you come to play, others will follow. If you’re the leader of the team, you gotta do what you’re supposed to do. If you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, then others will not do anything.”
On one hand, Shaq is completely right. Harden should be giving maximum effort on both ends of the floor. His lackluster effort at times is laughable. For example, Harrison Barnes exploded by Harden for an easy dunk with a simple move. There was no contesting the attempt. Basically, Harden wasn’t competing in Game 2 of the Western Conference first round.
However, Harden’s deficiencies shouldn’t cause the other players not to perform. For the most part, that doesn’t seem to be the case. There are members of the team that compete with maximum effort, while others just go through the motions. Still, Shaq had more words for Harden.
“He doesn’t lead by example.” There’s two types of leaders. The vocal leaders get in people’s faces like Draymond Green and those who lead by example.”
To make matters worse, Harden dominates the ball offensively. He scored 28 points and had 11 assists in the Game 2 loss, but also coughed up five turnovers. It’s not fun playing with somebody that dominates the ball and plays such poor defense at the same time. However, his performance is nothing new to the Rockets.
Harden got to the free throw line 15 times, drawing three separate fouls on 3-point attempts. He was also 1 of 8 from 3-point range and shot 7 of 19 from the field for the second time in the series.
Some NBA pundits believe the Rockets are too talented to finish the season with a 41-41 record, but they fail to realize one thing. Playing basketball is a talent. Having a drop step is a talent. Don’t confuse athletic ability with basketball talent. If you can’t catch the ball, pass and cut through the lane once, it’s hard to say you’re talented.
That’s why the Rockets are down 2-0 to the Warriors even with Stephen Curry missing the second game due to an ankle injury.