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

Scott Halleran / Getty Images Sport / Getty

James Harden may not be as vocal as Chris Paul, but that doesn't make him any less of a leader.

The Houston Rockets guard dismissed his former coach Kevin McHale's claim he "is not a leader" last week, saying he's "done a great job" in Houston even though McHale did nothing to help him grow as a leader during their time together from 2012-15.

Harden, 28, explained his preference to lead by example, which counts despite coming off as less loud and in-your-face than Paul, whose leadership McHale praised.

"There's different types of leaders," Harden said, as quoted by the Houston Chronicle's Jonathan Feigen. "I've always been a leader with my work ethic, just becoming more comfortable communicating and being a vocal leader, and knowing the guys you're leading, knowing what's around you. Then, it's just going out of my way a lot more than I always had. It's one thing to show the person, but it's also going out there making sure the person feels they're loved, that they feel welcome at all times."

Related - D'Antoni defends Harden: 'He's been unbelievably great'

Harden is confident he possesses leadership qualities, which he's developed over the years and continues to work on.

"I still have a long way to go," he admitted.

The All-NBA combo guard assumed more leadership responsibility following the club's disappointing 2014-15 campaign. He organized offseason workouts and, though he's non-confrontational by nature, he resolved to be more vocal.

He's expected to take charge of the Rockets alongside another ball-dominant star in Paul, who joined the team via sign-and-trade this offseason. Their fit has raised questions, but Harden's confident they can make it work.

"Personalities are not the same with anyone, but it fits," he said. "I can adjust to anybody. Anybody that is a leader can figure it out and work together. That's just how life works. Anybody that works hard and has a great work ethic and loves and is passionate about something will be able to mesh and work together no matter what. We bring those qualities out of each other, me and CP. It's bound to work."

Their teammate Bobby Brown agrees, and discussed how the combination of both Harden and Paul's leadership styles will be good for the club.

"Chris leads by talking and James leads by example. When you have that, when you have both of them, it's definitely good for our team. James brings it every night. You have CP who brings it and he's telling people what to do."

Harden led the league last season with 11.2 assists per game to go along with 29.1 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 1.5 steals. He finished second in MVP voting, and carried Houston to a third-place finish in the West and to the second round of the playoffs.

But he's "not a leader."

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