After coming short 1 game of the NBA Finals in the 2018 playoffs, a lot of things were expected from the Houston Rockets this season, as a Finals appearance or even a championship was a goal for their team.
But the season didn’t go as planned and after it ended their stars apparently had a verbal disagreement. James Harden and Chris Paul got into an argument over ball movement, which continued until they were separated:
Per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
“But Harden and Paul had tense moments with one another throughout Game 6, culminating in a verbal back-and-forth postgame that went into the locker room, sources with knowledge of the situation told The Athletic. Sources said the verbal exchange between Harden and Paul was regarding the ball distribution throughout Game 6. By the time the remainder of the locker room was ready to talk, Paul and Harden had gone their separate ways, with Paul swiftly making his way to the postgame podium. The Rockets dispensed with exit interviews this year, so the media hasn’t been able to ask Paul or Harden about the disappointment.”
Harden had 35 points that game, while Paul scored 27 points, but it still it wasn’t enough to get the win, as they were already exchanging words during the game. Paul was pushing coach D’Antoni to call for more ball movement in their offense, while Harden on the other side was obviously pushing for more isolation plays.
Because the Rockets didn’t have exit interviews this year, there hasn’t been a chance to ask Harden or Paul to publicly comment on the fight. It seems the state of their team for next season will be a question mark this offseason.
Harden explained himself all season, saying he didn’t want to play this way but had to because of injury. Most notably, Steph Curry was recorded at the All-Star game talking how Harden came up to him and talked how he would like to play with more ball movement – aware most of the basketball world had skepticism about his isolation-heavy approach.
Now it seems, it wasn’t all injuries that made him play this way.