Over the years, we’ve seen a host of incredibly talented NBA stars hit their stride but find it difficult to deliver when paired with another star. It’s basically what went down when perennial All-Stars James Harden and Chris Paul teamed up in Houston.
Game recognizes game
Taking a short trip down memory lane, the Houston Rockets were the best team in the NBA. With Paul and Harden in the frontline, the Rockets surged and finished the 2017-18 season as the No. 1 team in the league with a 65-17 record.
Houston was touted as a championship contender, and many thought Paul and Harden would finally get a ring. However, the team was faulted by the eventual champions, Golden State Warriors, in the pulsating Game 7 of their Western Conference Finals duel.
The Rockets and the Dubs met again in the following season. Once again, Houston fell short-handed and got eliminated in six games. Reports at the time stated that Paul and Harden had had conflicts amid the series and infamously described the relationship between the two as “unsalvageable.”
In the summer of 2019, Paul left Houston for the Oklahoma City Thunder, leaving fans believing CP3 and “The Beard” held grudges against one another. That narrative intensified when OKC and Houston faced off in the first round in 2020. The series boiled down to a thrilling Game 7, but the Rockets prevailed in the end.
A lot has been said about Paul and Harden over time. Some may have never heard of it, but before all the drama, CP3 once admitted that he was grateful to have played with a player like Harden.
“To play with someone with the ability that James has, it’s unbelievable because you don’t see it too often,” Paul said of Harden in 2017 via Men’s Journal. “There’s not too many people you come across in this league that love the game as much as he does.”
It is what it is
Indeed, it’s kind of hard to judge who the good and the bad were in the Paul-Harden fallout. But if there’s anything “The Beard” was sure about, it was that he and Paul just wanted to compete and win.
“As competitors on the court, you can have disagreements on the court but that is just a part of basketball and everybody has that no matter at what level the basketball is played in,” Harden said of the issue with Paul.
At this point, it’s very unlikely that Paul and Harden would be teammates again. But it’s good to know that both players appreciated their relatively brief time together.