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Watch: McHale responds to Harden calling him 'a clown'

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports / Action Images

Former Houston Rockets head coach Kevin McHale truly feels James Harden didn't demonstrate strong leadership intangibles in the three seasons they worked together, from 2012-15. And being called a "clown" by his former All-Star guard is simply dirt on the Basketball Hall of Famer's shoulder.

"You calling me names is not going to change my opinion as to what I saw when I was there," said McHale on Friday night during NBA on TNT. "It's hard to have a lot of credibility if you don't play good defense. It's hard to say, 'let's get stops,' when people are looking at you saying, 'please stay in front of somebody.'"

Related - Harden: 'I've always been a leader with my work ethic'

McHale did go on to praise Harden by calling him "a hell of a basketball player," who organizes his teammates during the offseason. His description of what a true leader is, though, involves someone who can rally the troops when a team is trailing late and the game becomes more about will than skill.

"That's not his (James') personality. Chris Paul, in turn, will get in your face, go nose-to-nose with you. Say, 'hey let's go,' and I think that's what you need," added McHale.

Harden finished as the runner-up in MVP voting last season for the 55-win Rockets, doing a complete 180-degree turn with his game by moving the rock more, ultimately leading the league in that department with 11.2 assists per game.

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