Many wondered about the viability of a James Harden-Russell Westbrook partnership when the Houston Rockets initially acquired the latter player in 2019, but nobody anticipated the duo would last just one season together.
So what went wrong?
This week, ESPN analyst Kendrick Perkins appeared on James Posey’s ‘Posecast’ podcast and revealed a pretty juicy tidbit.
According to Perkins, Harden’s incessant partying rubbed Westbrook the wrong way.
.@KendrickPerkins says James Harden’s partying led to Russell Westbrook’s trade request.
“[If they had some days off], James was on a private [jet] to Cabo! On Tilman Fertitta’s private [jet] at that! Russ is like… ‘I ain’t with all the partying.'”
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) January 16, 2021
That aligns at least somewhat with prior reports that Westbrook wasn’t a fan of the culture that had developed in Houston over the course of Harden’s tenure.
“Westbrook, sources say, has made it known for quite some time now that he would like to see significant changes to the Rockets’ culture,” Kelly Iko, Sam Amick, and Shams Charania of The Athletic reported back in November.
“Specifically, his desire for more team-wide accountability, discipline and structure have been the focus of talks with team officials. Throughout the season, Westbrook was the consistent presence who kept Harden accountable and the two close friends had several verbal exchanges that sources described as ‘tense, but needed.’”
Yikes. It’s a wrap for Jackie MacMullan.https://t.co/lIFTuBiJtc
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 14, 2021
That ultimately led to Westbrook wanting out – preferably to a team where he could have a role more similar to the one he had with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Westbrook was ultimately granted his wish by way of a trade to the Washington Wizards, where he promptly began instituting the sort of culture he was more comfortable with.