By JUSTIN SOBELMAN
When NBA fans discuss who should be named MVP in a given season, one main argument is “MVP moments.” This means that beyond the numbers, beyond the team success, did a player have signature plays that we will remember ten years from now when we look back at the season?
In the 2017-18 season, James Harden of the Houston Rockets has been the leader in the MVP discussion for most of the season, ahead of challengers LeBron James (Cleveland Cavaliers) , Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks) , Kevin Durant (Golden State Warriors), and Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors).
Harden already had the strongest case, posting unreal numbers on the team with the league’s best record. However, Wednesday night may have locked up The Beard’s first MVP trophy.
It was a pretty typical possession for the Rockets, with Harden working one-on-one against Los Angeles Clippers forward Wesley Johnson while four shooters dotted the three-point line. Harden regularly cooks poor saps in these isolation plays, possessing an endless array of moves to get to the rim or knock down a three off the dribble.
What happened next will go down in NBA Twitter history. He drove on Johnson, unleashed a wicked between-the-legs crossover and stepped back to the three-point line. Now this would have been impressive no matter what, but as it turned out, when Harden got back behind the arc, Johnson had crumpled to the ground. And, to be honest, he probably should have just laid there and refused to get up because Harden proceeded to hold the ball, stare at Johnson’s pathetic body— and this is the best part— wait for him to stand back up, before ending his misery and drilling a three in his face. He was fired up, his teammates lost their minds, and NBA Twitter was off and running.
Twitter isn’t always the greatest thing in the world, but there’s no better place to go when something great happens in basketball. Instantly, video of the move was up on the site, various people were giving their flabbergasted thoughts on how absurd the play was, and within 20 minutes or so the video was dubbed over with Titanic music (a staple of great highlights), among other fun videos. Here’s a photo of the great injustice, and a link to a Bleacher Report article compiling many of the best tweets: http://bleacherreport.com/james-harden-is-savage
Anybody on Twitter who remotely follows NBA hoops weighed in on what was quickly proclaimed the most disrespectful move of the season (in an awe-inspiring way).
THAT is exactly the type of moment people remember, one that will be turned into a meme and be joked about for at least a few days. When voters for the MVP award sit down to fill out their ballots, what do you think will be the first think they think of? Probably the best player on the season’s defining team that reduced another professional athlete to rubble. So, congrats to Harden on his first MVP, and stay tuned to see if he thanks NBA Twitter in his acceptance speech. He might owe a lot to it.