Every NBA fan remembers that unforgettable video of Houston Rockets superstar James Harden slapping away teammate Chris Paul‘s hand. Because Paul is widely known as a great teammate and leader and Harden was like, uh-uh, no thanks. Not having your BS, take it somewhere else. Don’t need your little high-five fist-bump thing CP3, beat it.
Everybody denied there was tension between the two stars — all part of the heat of the action, everybody said. But lo and behold, Paul was sent packing after the 2018-19 season — a season where James Harden did everything but take the Rockets to the NBA Finals. Again.
[It is notable that this video went viral a year after it happened, when CP3 and Harden again did not advance. But sentiment lingers, as we all know.]
Paul’s departure made room for the newest Houston Rocket and Harden superstar teammate — former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook. Finally, someone who Harden respects, right? Someone who can command his respect so the team can function. You won’t catch Harden holding up his palm and lecturing Westbrook, right?
Oh, wait. Isn’t that what’s going on here, in this pic from USA Basketball? It’s an older photo, but the dynamic is worrisome, no? Yup, that’s Harden in a WTF pose talking to Russ, whose expression seems to say something like: dude, I will eat you for breakfast, I can jump over your head.
Rockets fans hoping that this pairing will go well have ample reason to be concerned about the vibe in this pic, for sure. Everybody can deny tension all they want, but there is a pecking order on every team and there has to be chemistry. Can Harden communicate to a peer without taking a WTF stance? Chris Paul can tell you first hand about chemistry. There was absolutely no beef between him and Harden, and then he was gone.