Los Angeles Lakers five-time champion Kobe Bryant sat down alongside former foe and seven-time All-Star Tracy McGrady in an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols on Monday, Feb. 4.
The episode—which aired on ESPN’s The Jump—included the two former NBA stars discussing a number of topics including Houston Rockets guard James Harden, their days in the NBA, and when they played each other one-on-one early in their careers. Bryant and McGrady focused on Harden throughout the interview as he is matching and breaking their own records.
Bryant praised Harden throughout the interview for his electrifying numbers over the last month or so, but he said his style will not give Houston any success.
“What he’s doing is absolutely remarkable,” Bryant said. “It’s a testament to how remarkable it is because people are now trying to minimize what it is he’s doing. He’s doing some phenomenal stuff.”
“I don’t think that style is ever going to win championships,” Bryant told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols. “But, at the same time, you have to keep your team’s head above water to win games, so you have to do what you have to do to win games, and he’s doing that, right?”
“Not with this style of play, it won’t win, with one player dominating the ball,” Bryant added. “Now, when you have Chris Paul come back, and you have more movement to the offense where you move guys around where you’re harder to find.”
Harden is currently on a historic scoring streak. Harden averaged 43.6 points per game through January and continued a streak of 30-point performances into February to 26 straight. On Monday, Feb. 4 in Houston’s 118-110 win over Phoenix, Harden extended the streak to 27 straight games with 44 points. Harden is now just four games shy of tying Wilt Chamberlain’s 2nd-longest career streak of consecutive 30-point games.
Harden got word of Bryant’s comments after his 44-point performance and he defended himself against the future Hall of Famer’s claims. Harden noted that he had to take the scoring load with many of his teammates—including point guard Chris Paul—out with injuries.
“I have to be ball dominant because we have injuries,” Harden told reporters. “For right now, he’s probably right. This way won’t get us where we want to go. We haven’t had a full roster yet. I’m excited for that.” Harden added that he expects the team to change it’s style of play come playoff time. “This way that we’re playing, won’t happen in the playoffs,” he added. “It won’t get us to where we want to go.”
The Rockets currently sit sixth in the Western Conference with a 30-22 record. Harden will have to continue his excellence, as well as his teammates stepping up to make a run in the playoffs.