Let some tell it, Dwight Howard and James Harden downright hate each other.
It’s never so easy, is it? Folks watch a game, see how two fierce competitors interact—two of the best in the world, by the way—and draw conclusions.
Of course, it doesn’t help that the Houston Rockets haven’t exactly lived up to expectations this year, sitting seventh in the Western Conference at 35-35. The Howard-Harden dynamic has already chewed through one head coach this year, with Harden having missed significant time in the offseason and Howard simply falling victim to age.
Despite what seems like obvious signs of turmoil, Howard told USA Today he doesn’t hate his partner in crime:
People feel … like we hate each other. I have no hate in my blood for this man, you know? For what? He came from nothing. We both came from nothing. And we’re doing something that we love. We grew up playing this game for fun, and we had big dreams of making it to the NBA.
We both have to figure out how we’re going to make this thing work. It’s on us. We’ve got the rest of the season, and the playoffs, and we can do it. It’s a mindset. It’s a mentality. And the whole team will fall in line when me and him are on that same page and the team sees that we’re strong together. … Collectively, if we just come together like we’re supposed to…
It’s an interesting behind-the-scenes look, to say the least.
Howard has a reputation as a guy who wants the offense to revolve around him, but it’s an approach that has only worked when he isn’t in the presence of another superstar. Harden, as most know, doesn’t blow minds in a positive way on the defensive end of the court but is one of the Association’s most prolific scorers.
One can see how the alleged beef between the two could have started before they even played a game together.
For Howard, it sounds like now is the time to shut down all of the outside noise and focus on winning in the playoffs. He even goes on in the interview to suggest this Houston team can win a title this year.
Despite the .500 record, it’s not so outlandish. The up-and-down Rockets managed to beat the San Antonio Spurs once this year, are 6-4 over their last 10 games and new addition Michael Beasley has provided a boost with averages of 14.6 points and 5.4 rebounds in just eight games with the team. It’s a great boost to depth, an all-important factor in the conference, and folks already know what Harden brings to the table as a scorer and Howard on both ends of the court.
Sure, this latest interview could be a strong stunt by the PR side of the Rockets. But with nothing but on-court film to go by, blindly suggesting the two core pieces that make the Rockets tick hate each other doesn’t have much in the way of firm ground.
And if the men do have their differences, it sounds like they are professional enough to put such factors aside and chase a title.
Becoming a world champion has a way of doing that to the biggest of egos.