We know what you’re here for, so let’s get to it.
The most absurd offensive stretch the league has seen in a long damn time. MVP James Harden. ICE. pic.twitter.com/ZibOpg9eBb— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) January 4, 2019
You’re lying to yourself if you say that a post from Rob (Wob) isn’t the first video evidence of an NBA highlight on social media that you see. It’s iconic and calculated at this point. The video is somewhat difficult to hear, but it’s also absurdly loud. The video is grainy and shaky. You’re lucky if you get a complete visual of the score, and you’re really lucky if you get the amount left in the game. But it’s the only way to first view a highlight on Twitter because there is no better way.
JAMES HARDEN WINS IT FOR THE @HOUSTONROCKETS FROM DOWNTOWN!— NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2019
Final in Oakland:#Rockets 135#DubNation 134 pic.twitter.com/SOJ374U8P0
The real-time highlight. This is a thing of beauty. If you missed it, you see exactly what the audience saw as it transpired. If you actually lived it, you get to relive it.
It’s the play in it’s truest form.
Harden pulls up. Kevin Harlan makes the call. The crow goes silent. You see the team celebrate. They focus in on one fan. Draymond Green is on the bench, stunned.
JAMES. HARDEN. #Rockets pic.twitter.com/lqURl0ote1— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 4, 2019
Finally, the highlight of all highlights.
Here, we get multiple angles. We get the shot in real time. We get the shot from above and behind. We get a great view of Harden standing up and staring down his prey, Draymond Green. Even with the good guy Green, Gerald, in his face, Harden doesn’t break his gaze. He’s looking over his shoulder, barking words at his defender.
James Harden wants it pic.twitter.com/poB2kBhMwL— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 4, 2019
THE STARE DOWN
Ferocious and unforgiving. If “you can’t guard me” had a look, this would be the look. If “get the F— outta my face” needed an image, look no further. This is how a man looks at you with he snatches your soul out of your body.
You wanted it bad, but he wanted it more.
Side note: Gerald Green looks like the one kid on your team that was just having fun being a part of the game, and he had no idea how seriously you were taking it.
.@HoustonRockets James Harden (13) shoots the game winning three-point basket past @warriors Draymond Green and Klay Thompson during OT of their @NBA game at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif. on Jan. 3, 2019. The Rockets defeated the Warriors in overtime 135-134. @MarkG_Medina pic.twitter.com/zkAfIqFl7C— Jose Carlos Fajardo (@jcfphotog) January 4, 2019
The shot caught in all its glory.
You can argue that the picture above is better simply because of what it means and the emotion it captures, but you will rarely ever see a better sports photo. It really shows you the extent to which he was covered. He couldn’t be more draped on, even if Klay and Dramond’s jerseys were red and had the No.13 on them.
You can see the whites of Harden’s eyes. You can tell that he’s not even noticing his defenders. It’s just him and the rim at this moment.
Also, take a moment to look at the crowd. Off the bat, I noticed: the woman throwing her hands up in dismay (top left). The woman a little further down and to the left who appears to be sarcastically clapping. To the left of Draymond is a fan trying to stop Harden with telepathy. Right under Klay’s left arm, there’s a man in a large white coat who is not amused. Also, I think that’s E-40 behind the ref’s head.
Harden called GAME and made sure Draymond knew afterwards pic.twitter.com/G0EkbOBNTa— NBA TALK (@Talk_NBA_) January 4, 2019
A demonstrative Harden is the best Harden. Usually calm and laid back, it’s great to see him flex on guys and talk that talk- especially at guys who are as vocal as Draymond.
I wonder what he told him. I mean, I know what he told him, but I still want him to tell us what he told him.
this is an incredibly good Sports Photo pic.twitter.com/C38MYFIGaL— Tim Cato (@tim_cato) January 4, 2019
In case you can’t get enough of Harden staring down his defender and Gerald Green being amazed by Harden in child-like wonder, here’s another great photo of that. That look must have felt like an eternity to Draymond.
Here's a perfect example of how locked in James Harden is.— Ben DuBose (@BenDuBose) January 4, 2019
After hitting probably the biggest shot of his career, his nearly immediate reaction is to remind Gerald Green and Danuel House Jr. that there's still 1 second left that they'll need to defend. #Rockets pic.twitter.com/ky1AxcKNeJ
Leadership and focus.
He might have hit the game-winner, but the job’s not done yet. Harden settles back down his teammates, and tells them to close it out on defense.
"Two-time MVP."— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 4, 2019
-@JHarden13 after the #Rockets OT win. pic.twitter.com/6KmTXZYOfF
Now that the game is over, tell them how you really feel. 44 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds, 10 three-pointers, overcame a 20-point deficit, and hit the game-winner. No Chris Paul and no Eric Gordon.
Yeah, he has a right to start talking about “two-time MVP.”
Security knows what’s up pic.twitter.com/5dCkpmddVn— Mike (@Mikey_to) January 4, 2019
You can’t get much more love than the opposing team’s security guard telling you that you were cookin’. I wonder if the guy still has his job.
"I had confidence that it was gonna go in."@ROSGO21 catches up with James Harden after he hits the game-winner for the Rockets! #Rockets pic.twitter.com/C9ADrm8wjT— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) January 4, 2019
“What does it take to make that kind of shot?”
“Every time y’all ask me a question like that, I’m gonna tell you: the work.”
This is why he’s the man. He’s not bragging. He’s not boastful. He’s honest. The man puts in the work and it shows. I remember once Kobe Bryant said something along the lines of, he doesn’t see the defenders, he just feels them. He was totally full of it, but it’s a great quote. This is the same thing, but much less hyperbolic.
This angle of Harden’s game-winner— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 4, 2019
(via colinfraser/IG) pic.twitter.com/cta87udGbW
This fan’s angle of the Harden game winner. (Submitted by @oskarlind_) pic.twitter.com/pLtgr7xzPB— House of Highlights (@HoHighlights) January 4, 2019
In the official footage, the crowd wasn’t particularly loud, but in both fans videos you really get the sense of stillness coming from the fans. It’s all just murmurs and sounds of anticipation; like they want to celebrate, but they know someone could change really soon- that, or they don’t understand how home court defense works.
The melodic groans and the up-close reactions really make these so special. You can collective hear all hope being lost.
@JHarden13 (44p/15a/10r) walks off with 135-134 @HoustonRockets OT W!#NBAPostgame #Rockets pic.twitter.com/P2cfxI1GdF— NBA (@NBA) January 4, 2019
Even as he walking through the tunnels, adrenaline pumping, Harden praises his teammate and the team effort it took to get the win, even gives a shout out to Chris Paul and Eric Gordon.
The nonchalant “swag” at the end. Like it was his official sign off, like the sentence wouldn’t make sense without it, Harden throws his call card out at the end. He has to be the only person in history to say “swag” earnestly and sound cool doing it.
Great team win last night. We gon continue to #RunAsOne pic.twitter.com/2xPrlEnyVA— James Harden (@JHarden13) January 4, 2019
Of course, what would it all be without the star giving his teammates their due?
Capela had a 20-20 game. Austin Rivers showed up late. Danuel House and P.J. Tucker did all the things that many aren’t willing to do to get a win.
Behind their MVP, a team missing two of its best players over came a 20-point deficit and beat a star-studded Golden State Warriors.