This rivalry would be far more interesting if it was more combative; if it was a slobber-knocker of a match between two behemoths. It’s hard to say it’s anything close to the bitter rivalry between Larry Bird’s Celtics and Magic’s Lakers — one in which they swap championships, and decades later there are still debates over who was truly better.
No, unfortunately, the “rivalry” between ankles and James Harden is a lot closer to David vs. Goliath, but not only is Goliath still big, he also has David’s slingshot. So it’s basically a giant man vs. unarmed child.
Just look at this example.
In this video, those ankles are only a mere 21 years old, just on the eve (actually a month away) of their 22nd birthday. Yet, Harden has no remorse for them.
There’s no real rhyme or reason as to why Harden feels this way about ankles — he just does. It’s a visceral, animal-like instinct that takes over him; willing to break down every bit of calcium and marrow in its existence.
You make look at this evidence and say, “that was clearly an accident. There’s no way he could ever be that spiteful to any of his opponents.” Well, then explain this.
Here, he clearly just watches over his opponents, not caring that they’ve been clearly shook to their core and are trembling in his wake. Harden doesn’t even care that he’s up by 24 at this point. He just wants to humiliate them.
As you dig further back, there’s no real history behind this tumultuous relationship. There’s no shared moment between the two that says they were destined to be enemies for life. It’s like a story Michael Jordan uses to make a matchup personal — it’s clearly all in his head.
And, for Harden, a matchup with specific ankles can last for years and years to come.
His first run-in with the ankles attached to Ricky Rubio’s body came in February of 2015. Over five years ago.
Then, over four years later, he goes back and puts his opponent to shame again.
One of Harden and ankle’s most recent matchup shows just how deep this rivalry goes. In a stunning surprise, the fact that these ankles were attached to Patrick Beverley — one of Harden’s closest and most storied teammates — didn’t save them from his wrath.
Harden even points at them afterward, tauntingly.
Look closely at the replay. Did you see it?
The video description and many other will say that Harden was kicked right in the noggin by Draymond Green. But, again, look closely. It was the ankles. Like a heat-seeking missile, they went straight for his face, not missing their one, single opportunity to exact revenge.
It’s not necessarily an action that any one person should condone — Harden has never actually made physical contact to to ankles to harm them — but anyone who has taken a beating like that for so long can’t be held liable for what they do against their oppressor.
Who’s to say when this relationship will smooth over? It probably never will. As long as Harden keeps targeting ankles, there’s no way that these two will ever get along. Let’s just hope for the meantime that this rivalry can remain as civil and professional as possible.