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Tim McMahon On Houston Rockets Locker Room Culture: "Houston's Casual Culture Appalled Westbrook...Westbrook Didn't Tolerate Tardiness."

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(via Flipboard)

(via Flipboard)

Most of this week's NBA media spotlight has been focused on James Harden. Aside from the reigning MVP signing a supermax, most of the buzz has been about Harden possibly being traded. James Harden is actively trying to leave a mess that he did have a hand in. Russell Westbrook has already left, and perhaps he is slightly relieved.

ESPN reporter Tim McMahon reported about the locker room culture in Houston: it seemed to be based on the whims and wants of superstar James Harden. There are multiple quotes about the mess of a culture that Westbrook seemed to loathe in the article.

"We knew who the boss of the organization was," a former Rockets assistant coach said. "That's just part of what the deal was when you go to Houston. The players, coaches, GM, owner all know."

The Houston Rockets' culture in the James Harden era, which bridges two owners and now four head coaches, might be best summed up by a former staffer's three words:

"Whatever James wants."

McMahon reported that the on-court relationship between Harden and Westbrook soured. The more relaxed culture that James Harden cultivated in Houston was something that didn't sit right with Westbrook, as he had always wanted to win. McMahon covered Westbrook's displeasure:

"Houston's casual culture appalled Westbrook. In Oklahoma City, despite the fact that he enjoyed the same sort of superstar privileges as Harden has had in Houston, the Thunder operated with the discipline of a military unit under Westbrook's watch. The Rockets were a stark contrast, especially last season under D'Antoni, who was never known as a disciplinarian"

Westbrook didn't tolerate tardiness. With the Rockets, scheduled departure times were treated as mere suggestions by Harden and others.

“Nothing ever starts on time," a former Rockets staffer said. “The plane is always late. The bus is never on time. It's just an organized AAU team.”

On one occasion in the Florida bubble, Harden waited to get his daily COVID-19 testing until just before the Rockets' film session was scheduled to start. When he wasn't on time, Westbrook barked, “Start the film! Start without him!” D’Antoni explained that they'd just have to start over when Harden arrived, which didn't do much to calm Westbrook.

Whether Westbrook or Harden wanted out first isn't clear, but they no longer wanted to play together, a season after the Rockets mortgaged their draft future to make it happen.

It seems as though Westbrook will get a fresh start with the Washington Wizards. Co-star Bradley Beal is reportedly excited for the partnership and based on McMahon's article we can assume Westbrook is excited for a new opportunity in a more rigorous environment.