Harden's mom, Monja Willis, was sitting courtside as the Rockets won to even the best-of-seven series at 1-1 when Barnes made his disparaging comment.
“You don’t say anything to anybody’s mom,” McHale, himself a trash-talker when he played for the
Willis told TMZ.com earlier Thursday that Barnes apologized for his remark.
The Rockets will face the Clippers in Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center.
"I don't know what happened. I wasn't there," McHale said. "I didn't get a chance to talk to James' mother about it. From what I heard, that's just not right.
"I came from an era where everybody talked smack and there was a lot of stuff going on. But not like that. It was much more 'I'm going to kick your [butt]. What're you going to say about that?' It went from there."
McHale recalled how he used to talk trash to Magic Johnson when the Celtics and Lakers faced each other.
But McHale said he never brought up Johnson's mother in the conversation.
"I never thought about talking bad about Magic's mother," McHale said. "It was hard enough talking [trash] to Magic. We all talked smack, but nothing like that. My goodness! That thought never even crossed your mind."