James Harden did something so disrespectful Wednesday night that the entire internet stopped what it was doing to marvel at it.
We all saw Harden cross over Wesley Johnson so bad he fell straight to the floor, and then we all started screaming when Harden didn’t immediately take the step-back three. Instead, he just stared at him. He then buried it a couple seconds later. It was completely and utterly ruthless.
We came into the Rockets vs. Clippers game with memories of their last meeting on our mind, where Houston ultimately “charged” down a “secret tunnel” to the Clippers locker room to “fight” them while teammates served as a “decoy” out front. (In actuality, it didn’t quite go down like that, but, boy, that was a fun night.) Ultimately, only Trevor Ariza and Gerald Green were suspended.
Instead of getting more off-court tomfoolery or even some ejections, we got the Rockets clowning on Los Angeles, and specifically Harden clowning on Johnson, who might have to retire now. It’s unfortunate, but sometimes this is just how careers end. Don’t be sad that it’s over. Be happy it happened.
With that in mind, we’ve ranked all the most disrespectful parts of Harden’s devastating crossover.
13. The mindset
James Harden only has one thing going through his mind while playing: pic.twitter.com/biJRlSINOu— ESPN (@espn) March 1, 2018
12. The jersey pop
11. Whatever Harden must have yelled here
- “GET YOUR ASS OUT OF THE LEAGUE BEFORE I CROSSOVER YOUR WHOLE FAMILY.”
- “WESLEY, IF YOU NEED A NEW JOB AFTER THIS, I HEARD THE ATHLETIC IS HIRING.”
- “THE GOOD NEWS IS THAT ALL THE RETWEETS THESE JOKES ARE GONNA GET WILL FUND TWITTER THROUGH 2022, WES. THE BAD NEWS IS YOU GOTTA RETIRE.”
Or maybe he just yelled “let’s go” or something, I dunno.
10. This lady
When random Angelenos sitting courtside are even pointing you out in laughter, you know you’ve done something wrong.
9. The bench reaction
Watch this again, but just focus on the bench.
Find friends that are as happy for your success as the Rockets bench is for James Harden.pic.twitter.com/RwMFzrfWwg— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) March 1, 2018
Is it time for a ... ranking within a ranking? It is. Here are the Rockets’ bench reactions, ranked.
- P.J. Tucker literally just standing up and walking away after Johnson falls.
- Green crouching down just waiting for Harden to drill that shot.
- Ariza jogging up the sideline just because he can’t believe Harden did that.
- Assistant coach Roy Rogers sitting down with his hand over his mouth because he doesn’t want anyone seeing him grinning about how bad Harden just humiliated his defender.
- The rest of the bench. (Come on, guys, do something more interesting than standing up and yelling.)
It wasn’t an elite bench reaction, but it added to the moment.
8. The crossover
It was a good crossover, but hardly spectacular. Harden may have put just enough of his shoulder into Johnson that he got his feet tangled. It was all over after that.
7. The postgame laugh
James Harden had to laugh before he even responded pic.twitter.com/cjIm9utvv6— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 1, 2018
6. The first stepback
Remember back in the day when you crossed someone over and then put up a jumper from where you were standing? Harden ain’t about that life. Daryl Morey is still grinning gleefully somewhere after Harden decided to just hop on back behind the line.
5. The situation
That this was the first game between the Rockets and the Clippers since TunnelGate just makes everything so much juicier.
4. The final step back
I truly enjoy how casually Harden decides, “Yeah, I’ll go ahead and get an extra point for this shot.”
3. The stare
You know that movie Interstellar, when they go onto the planet orbiting close to a black hole that causes time dilation, which makes an hour on that planet equal seven Earth years? I’m almost positive that’s what happened during Harden’s stare.
I rewatched this play 100 times. Johnson doesn’t hit the floor until 1:20 is on the clock, and when the shot’s out of Harden’s hands, the clock says 1:18. But I know that he stared at Johnson for longer than two seconds. I’m sure of it. I felt like we all lived what was actually several Earth years watching Harden just hang out watching Johnson before Milos Teodosic mercifully decides to end it. If Teodosic hadn’t, and this goes on for a few more seconds, we might have all actually aged 50 years.
Somehow, there are two things even more disrespectful than this.
2. The score
Houston won, 105-92, but they led by double digits for all but 28 seconds (when their lead was only eight) in the final three quarters. It wasn’t close. The Rockets embarrassed Los Angeles, and they remain 31-1 with Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela all playing.
1. The smile from Johnson himself
THIS MIGHT BE THE MOST DISRESPECTFUL PLAY IN NBA HISTORY. IT WAS SO DISRESPECTFUL THAT JOHNSON WASN’T EVEN MAD. HE JUST SMILED. HE JUST ACCEPTED HIS FATE. THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE HE COULD DO.