Tension Between CP3 And Harden

If you’re trading him, that would seem to indicate there was some fire to that smoke.

Jim Rome
July 15, 2019 - 1:26 pm
James Harden and Chris Paul

USA Today


When Chris Paul was traded to OKC for Russell Westbrook, it sure seemed like that was confirmation that he and James Harden can’t stand each other. Or at least can’t play alongside each other. Or both. After all, the Warriors had been the only roadblock to the Rockets when it came to the Finals.

So if the Warriors are losing Kevin Durant and missing Klay Thompson for most of the year, it would seem to make sense that Houston should run it back.

Sure, the other LA teams have made major changes, but Houston had the advantage of roster stability and not needing to work in other pieces. Chris Paul is getting older, but Houston was still ready to roll right now. And having never even been to the NBA finals, you know Paul was going to do everything in his power to get there.

So if you’re trading him, that would seem to indicate there was some fire to that smoke about a falling out between Paul and Harden. And now comes Brian Windhorst with some of the details.

On his podcast, Windhorst said in one of the games against the Warriors in the playoffs, Chris and James got into it on the court over a “schematic thing” about spacing.

Windhorst said that if memory serves him, Paul was trying to post up and he was doing it too close to Harden, which was making it too easy for a double team.

“Chris barked at James, and James turned to him — this was described to me by a player who was on the court — and he said, ‘With you it’s always f—ing something.'”

If that doesn’t sum up the Chris Paul Experience, I don’t know what does.

As great as Chris Paul is, and he is one of the all-time greats. You don’t get the nickname the Point God for nothing. But as great as he is, Harden’s right. It’s always bleeping something.

If you were to make a documentary about his time with the Clippers and the Rockets, it would be: “Chris Paul: It’s Always Bleeping Something.”

Because there is always bleeping something. He’s always pissed about something with teammates. Always getting into them about something. Even in a must-win playoff game against the Golden State Warriors.

You know how badly the Rockets wanted to beat the Warriors? They wanted to beat Golden State worse than they’ve ever wanted anything.  Pretty much worse than anyone has ever wanted anything. That was their whole focus for the last two years.

Actually, apparently, what’s more important to Paul than winning, is doing things his way: because there he is, in the playoffs, against the Warriors, barking at James Harden to the point that Harden fires back with “with you, it’s always f-ing something.”

Paul will tell you that’s a sign of how competitive he is. He wants to win so badly at everything that he won’t let go of anything. But if you’re doing it to the point that teammates are yelling at you on the court in the playoffs, you’ve got to let it go.

That doesn’t mean that Harden is blameless in this situation. Harden might not be the easiest guy to play with either, but it’s his team. He’s the reigning MVP. He’s the guy who makes that team go. He’s just had one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history and Paul is barking at him in a playoff game.

And that goes with the earlier reports from ESPN that Paul wanted more of the offense to be run for him. And that "Chris wants to coach James. James looks at him like, 'You can't even beat your man. Just shut up and watch me.'"

I’m not sure what I like more from Harden: a look that says 'You can't even beat your man. Just shut up and watch me.’ Or words that say “with you, it’s always f-ing something.” Both are all-time classics.

And both are perfect explanations for why Russell Westbrook is in Houston and why Chris Paul is in OKC.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be tension between Westbrook and Harden. Despite their long history going back to SoCal and the fact that they’d both tell you they’re friends, it might not be easy.

But at least Westbrook isn’t some old man trying to tell the MVP how they used to do it back in his day. And at least Harden isn’t going to be telling Westbrook right now that “with you, it’s always f-ing something.” It might happen at some point, but it won’t happen immediately.

Did you ever think you’d have another star wanting to deal with Russell Westbrook’s on floor decision making and critics over another? You have now.