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Dwight Howard: ‘I have no hate in my blood’ for James Harden

As controversy swirls around Dwight Howard over his use of Stickum during games, the Houston Rockets center tackled another issue that has plagued him throughout the season: His presumed dislike for teammate James Harden.

The prevailing suspicion is that Howard harbors bitterness toward Harden because the Rockets offense runs entirely through the dynamic guard and that Harden’s shoot-first mentality inhibits Howard’s productivity on the offensive end of the floor.

The numbers say it all. Howard is averaging 14.5 points per game, his lowest offensive output since his rookie season.

But that doesn’t mean Howard dislikes Harden, so he says.

“People feel … like we hate each other,” Howard said, per USA Today’s Sam Amick. “I have no hate in my blood for this man, you know? For what? He came from nothing. We both came from nothing. And we’re doing something that we love. We grew up playing this game for fun, and we had big dreams of making it to the NBA.

“So I would never hate this man because I know what it took for me to get here, and he made it. So I want him to succeed. I want us to succeed.”

Howard added he’s always been a big fan of Harden, long before the two became teammates.

But his purported inability to get along with superstar teammates has plagued him throughout his NBA career, highlighted by the perceptively tense relationship he shared with Kobe Bryant during his sole season with the Los Angeles Lakers. Howard denies that he and Bryant hated one another, but the speculation has persisted.

That belief has reared its ugly head again in Houston, only this time concerning Howard’s purported fractured relationship with Harden.

Howard insists that despite the conjecture that he and Harden are at odds — a rumor was floated at the NBA trade deadline that Harden tried to orchestrate a Howard trade — is simply untrue. He adds that with he and Harden leading the way, the Rockets can compete for an NBA title.

“It takes time, you know?” he added. “It takes time. If we can just come together like we’re supposed to and like we want to, then I’m telling you, we can win a championship.”