The confounding situation around NBA star and Warriors nemesis James Harden not showing up to Houston Rockets training camp on time left many questioning the motives of the three-time reigning scoring champion.
Among those publicly addressing Harden was former "We Believe" Warrior Stephen Jackson, who didn't hold anything back in his criticism.
"To me, it's just simple. James Harden doesn't want to be held accountable," Jackson said in an Instagram post. "(Mike) D'Antoni is the worst defensive coach in NBA history. Ain't going to win s--t. Ain't won s--t as a head coach and he's easy to run over. So James is trying to continue to be close to D'Antoni so he can't be held accountable."
Harden reportedly has demanded a trade from the Rockets after an offseason that saw both D'Antoni and Daryl Morey leave the organization for new positions within the NBA, D'Antoni taking over as an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets and Morey becoming the Philadelphia 76ers' president of basketball operations. Both the Nets and 76ers reportedly are among the destinations Harden has expressed interest in being traded to.
Jackson's frustrations with Harden also concerned first-year Rockets head coach Stephen Silas, one of seven Black head coaches in the NBA this season, to who Jackson believes Harden is doing a disservice by creating all this controversy around Houston's camp.
"And then again, what type of dude is you? The Rockets finally get a young Black coach," Jackson continued. "A young Black coach get an opportunity and you don't want to show up to camp, you don't want to play for him. How that look? And you wonder why every time a Black coach get a job they put him in a bulls--t situation. Look what you doing. What a real one would do is go play for that Black coach and make him look good and build with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, some real ones. Obviously, you want to chase rappers around."
Harden's starting backcourt mate from last season also departed this offseason, as Houston traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall and a first-round draft pick.
The Warriors reportedly checked in on the potential of a trade for Harden before Klay Thompson's injury in November, but all four of Harden's reported most-desired locations to be dealt are in the Eastern Conference, with the Miami Heat and Milwaukee Bucks in the mix alongside Philadelphia and Brooklyn.
Leverage is limited for Harden in this situation, as he still has two years remaining on his contract after the 2020-21 season. Also after the haul, we saw Jrue Holiday fetch for the New Orleans Pelicans when they traded him to Milwaukee, the trade package necessary to make a trade for Harden work would be staggering.
Jackson simply is asking Harden to put his own frustrations aside and try to help his Houston team and new head coach Silas win. The Rockets won their preseason debut Friday night without Harden as he continues to go through the NBA's COVID-19 protocol.
Now is the time for Harden to step up and be a leader in Jackson's eyes.