Dwight Howard sabotaged James Harden as Rockets’ relationship deteriorated
It’s no secret that tension existed between former Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Dwight Howard during their three-year tenure together. However, what wasn’t known was that tensions reached such a boiling point that many in the organization wondered if Howard was intentionally “whiffing” on screens for Harden as an attempt to sabotage him, according to ESPN’s Zach Lowe.
While the two stars never had a direct, heated confrontation, the two are said to have preferred more passive-aggressive means to fight their cold war, with Lowe reporting that Harden once asked to move to the bench in order to avoid playing with Howard and to work with Clint Capela. Though Lowe was clear that many in the organization believed Harden’s request was “facetious,” Capela, for his part, admitted that the tension was significant enough that he felt compelled to play peacemaker between the two, though he was only 21-years old at the time.
Despite the eventual deterioration of their relationship, Harden was a significant driver in the Rockets’ pursuit of Howard during the summer of 2013 when the franchise famously poached the big man from the Los Angeles Lakers. While the two would combine to eventually lead Houston to the Western Conference Finals during the 2014-2015 season, there continued to be an undercurrent of tension that nearly toppled the squad in the conference semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers that resulted in a 3-1 hole for the team. Though the Clippers would endure a collapse of their own, the duo’s relationship would only last for another 12 months before Howard bolted to the Atlanta Hawks.
Given both star’s reputations for being difficult, the only surprise is that we didn’t anticipate a feud with Howard first signed nearly a decade ago.