Shaq downplays James Harden, Chris Paul drama by noting Kobe rift
James Harden and Chris Paul are said to have reached a point of no return in their reportedly decaying on- and off-court relationship as teammates, but Shaquille O’Neal does not see why the Houston Rockets need to break up their dynamic duo.
League sources have told Yahoo Sports that Paul believes his partnership with Harden is “unsalvageable” and desires a trade. O’Neal doesn’t necessarily see the situation that way, and made mention of his occasionally dysfunctional but routinely rocky relationship with Kobe Bryant as evidence such obstacles can be overcome.
“Me and Kobe had tension all the time, but we respected each other,” O’Neal said during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Tuesday. “We respected each other so much that after we won our first championship, he was the first guy to jump in my arms. So you can have tension.”
The O’Neal-Bryant partnership with the Los Angeles Lakers produced three NBA titles during their eight seasons as teammates from 1996 to 2004. As Shaq notes, tension was common when it came to dealings between himself and Kobe, but the mutual respect helped them navigate said testy situations.
It’s unclear where things exactly stand between Harden and Paul, as the latter did post a comment on Instagram this week to dismiss reports he had demanded a trade, writing, “That’s news to me.”
Chris Paul denies Harden/Paul rumors on Instagram: “ Damn! That’s news to me…” #Rockets pic.twitter.com/hlsUSs3YND— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) June 18, 2019
O’Neal and Bryant ultimately resolved their differences and now enjoy a collegial relationship. It’s unclear at this time how the Paul-Harden drama may play out, and if a resolution, if any, can solve their perceived issues.
Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has gone on record to characterize rumors Paul demanded a trade as “definitely not true” and “ridiculous,” though it remains to be seen how the team will choose to navigate the complex situation.