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#pounditThursday, June 17, 2021

Report: Russell Westbrook was put off by James Harden’s constant tardiness

Russell Westbrook

James Harden made headlines for his late arrival to training camp this month, and apparently that was far from an isolated incident for him.

In an extensive article Wednesday on the Houston Rockets’ culture in the Harden era, ESPN’s Tim MacMahon revealed that Russell Westbrook was irked last season by Harden’s constant tardiness.

Per MacMahon:

Westbrook didn’t tolerate tardiness. With the Rockets, scheduled departure times were treated as mere suggestions by Harden and others

“Nothing ever starts on time,” a former Rockets staffer said. “The plane is always late. The bus is never on time. … It’s just an organized AAU team.”

On one occasion in the Florida bubble, Harden waited to get his daily COVID-19 testing until just before the Rockets’ film session was scheduled to start. When he wasn’t on time, Westbrook barked, “Start the film! Start without him!” [Then-coach Mike] D’Antoni explained they’d just have to start over when Harden arrived, which didn’t do much to calm Westbrook.

In the article, which is worth reading in its entirety, MacMahon also said that Westbrook was “appalled” by the team’s “casual” culture and that the duo no longer wanted to play together after just one season.

The Rockets went 44-28 (.611) last year, winning their division. They flamed out in the playoffs however, losing in five games in the second round with Westbrook hobbled due to a quad injury. The team then traded Westbrook to Washington for John Wall earlier this month.

The former MVP Harden beefed with his previous co-star in Houston too. The deteroriation of his playing relationship with Westbrook might be more damaging for Harden’s reptuation though because the two had been old buddies on the Oklahoma City Thunder.


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