The Perfect Marriage (Steph and Kerr), The Ugly Divorce (McHale and Harden)

It wasn’t that long ago that Steve Kerr was about to fling himself into the wrath of Gotham as the Phil Jackson disciple. Kerr was saved beore he knew he needed to be saved. He was rescued from a fate worse than death and relocated four hundred miles north attaching his train to the Steph Curry wagon. That first year, Steph won the MVP and the Warriors won the NBA title. The next year Steph won the MVP and the Warriors had the perfect season…well almost perfect. His third year, Kerr made room for Kevin Durant and the Warriors won the title again. Recently Kerr was asked about his golden child and he sounded less like a coach and more like a father. It was a little syrupy and way biased and why not? Curry is the reason Kerr is at the top of the mountain.

“He’s the most impactful offensive player in the terms of what he does to the defense- maybe ever.”

Ever? Clearly Kerr has never heard of Wilt Chamberlain who the league had to change rules to keep in check. There aren’t the Steph Rules as there were the Jordan Rules instituted by Chuck Daly. What would the Steph Rules be. Rule out threes?

More from Kerr.

“The way Steph plays, he puts the fear of God into defenses like nobody I’ve ever seen. Nobody’s been able to shoot off the dribble from 35 feet in a normal setting. Everything we do revolves around Steph. You can talk about where he stands in terms of the best players in the league. He’s obviously one of the best. By that standard, he’s the best.”

Affecting the game on one side of the ball doesn’t make Curry the best ever. Do we need to remind Kerr that on Xmas Day he took Steph out the game on the last defensive play when the Cavs had the ball to win?

“All you have to do is just look on the impact [Curry] makes every time he’s on the floor for us to know that everything we do, everything we run offensively, the other guy’s ability to make plays.”

Curry is great. He is in his prime. He’ll be amazing this year. And Steve Kerr, who himself was an offensive specialist and shot maker with suspect D, has his back. 24-7.

The same can’t be said for Kevin McHale and James Harden.

The shade going back and forth is entertaining but not productive. First, McHale said James Harden was a good basketball player but leave the leadership issues to Chris Paul. Harden took umbrage. He called McHale a clown and miserable. Now McHale, who I must point out is a multi-time champion and Hall of Famer, has answered Harden back.

Both Harden and McHale look a little too thin skinned, like they can’t take a little critique and in this day and age of social media where everyone is hating on something, can’t everyone just chill?.

Here is Kevin Mac defending himself.

“Calling me names is not going to change my opinions as to what I saw when I was there. It’s hard to have a lot of credibility if you don’t play good defense. It hard to say ‘let’s get stops’ when people are looking at you and saying ‘please stay in front of somebody’.

And my point was that he’s a hell of a basketball player, he really is. And to James credit, I will say this: He organizes guys in the summer, he does a lot of stuff. He does a lot of those things. It’s not about skill at this point- it’s about will. It’s like I’ve gotta impose my will on you. Chris Paul in turn will get in your face, go nose to nose with you, say ‘hey lets’ go’ and I think that’s what you need. Draymond Green does a good job whenever you need a spark, he’s out there jawing with somebody.

And that’s what I am saying. James is a hell of a basketball player. Chris Paul will have that leadership in those times when [Harden] gets a little bit introverted, a little bit quiet, and you saw the game with the Spurs. He just gets a little bit passive.”

Both Harden and McHale need to come to some middle ground instead of scorching the earth. Harden leads offensively and can shrink in moments. But this is true too. If McHale was that great of a coach he would have inspired Harden- not to change his personality- but his defensive intensity. Both Harden and McHale have things they need to be accountable for.

But Harden has more of a burden than McHale because Harden hasn’t won anything yet. He has had to learn the hard way that his Game 6 performance against the Spurs is going to stick to him and be used as evidence until he carries the Rockets to the Finals. No one is going to forget it and that’s the irony of sport. Your best moment is forgotten. Your worst moment is used to define you.

When Harden was with the Thunder and they lost to the Heat in the Finals, Harden skated from blame because he wasn’t the best player. But now he is the best player and Houston winning is because of Harden and Houston losing is because of Harden. It is not fair, no its not. It’s just basketball.

 

photo via llananba