Houston Rockets star James Harden called an NBA.com reporter a “weirdo” during a heated exchange in the aftermath of his team’s Game 2 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
Harden, 24, has struggled mightily during the Rockets’ opening round series against the Trail Blazers, making just 14 of his 47 shots through the first two games of the NBA playoffs. On Wednesday night, Harden shot 6-of-19 from the field and had five turnovers during Houston’s 112-105 loss.
After the game, NBA.com reporter Fran Blinebury questioned Harden about his offensive struggles on three separate occasions. Harden grew visibly frustrated with Blinebury’s line of questioning. “It’s basketball, you’re going to miss shots,” he said.
When the Rockets’ locker room media session ended, Harden’s confrontation with the reporter escalated. Here’s how the situation transpired, according to Mike Tokito of The Oregonian, who witnessed the encounter.
“But when his media session in the Rockets opulent locker room ended, Harden went back at the reporter, asking if he had ever seen a player not play well before. The reporter answered that the struggle seemed unusual for Harden and was coming on a major stage, the playoffs. The two went back and forth for a while, with Harden asking the reporter if he’d ever seen a basketball game before, then demanding to know whom the reporter was.”
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Eventually, the conversation grew so heated that Rockets officials escorted Harden away from Blinebury, The Oregonian reports. As he left, Harden called the reporter a “weirdo.”
Harden’s offensive struggles have played a role in the Rockets’ slow start, but the team’s true dilemma is its inability to contain Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s scored 89 points in the first two games, including 43 in Wednesday night’s win.
Game 3 of the Rockets-Trail Blazers series will air on Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET.