The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

James Harden pulls the most disrespectful move of the season, and Twitter goes nuts

James Harden is full of confidence these days. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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In the first quarter of Wednesday’s Rockets-Clippers game, it’s safe to say James Harden was feeling himself. On the other hand, if Harden was feeling anything toward Los Angeles’s Wesley Johnson, it was disrespect.

Extreme disrespect.

In the midst of personally outscoring the Clippers 17-12 in that quarter, Harden put Johnson in a body bag, then dumped the bag in a vat of acid. After causing Johnson to fall to the floor on a crossover move, Harden had the nerve to pause and stare at his vanquished foe before calmly draining a three-point shot.

Given that the game was nationally televised on ESPN, did Twitter immediately erupt? Is “Black Panther” doing fairly well at the box office? Here is a sampling of the some of the online reaction:

Of course, no moment can be said to have truly gone viral until it’s been set to the music from “Titanic.” (Narrator voice: “The moment truly went viral.”)

Ultimately, Harden scored 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting as his Rockets mostly cruised to a 105-92 win. If the ninth-year guard entered the game as the front-runner for the NBA’s MVP award, he left it having authored the most ruthless moment of the season.

Sure, some complained that Harden was guilty of either a push-off or traveling, or both. Let’s face it, though: Nothing he did on the play has tended to draw whistles on anyone in the NBA, and with apologies to the family of the late Mr. Johnson, it was all worth it for sheer entertainment value.

The play was also another indication of the boundless confidence with which Harden is playing these days, and with good reason. Not only is he leading the NBA in scoring while placing third in assists, his Rockets have the best record in the league and are now a mind-boggling 31-1 when Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela are all in the lineup.

Anthony Davis is surging, but MVP race is still between James Harden and LeBron James

On Tuesday, Harden told ESPN that he was getting a distinct “team of destiny” vibe from his squad. “This is the year. For sure,” he said.

“This is probably the best team I’ve ever been a part of, from top to bottom,” added Harden, who went to the 2012 NBA Finals with a team that also featured Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. “The chemistry that we have, included with the coaching staff — I mean, we’re having a lot of fun.”

Wednesday sure seemed like fun for the Rockets, whose sideline explosion at Harden’s audacity — on Johnson’s home court, no less — was more than equal to the Internet’s over-the-top reactions. “It felt good; been in my bag all year,” Harden said after the game. “Just one of those moves where I had to make him dance a little bit.”

Some would say that Harden was the one doing the dancing — on Johnson’s grave. Meanwhile, how about some more takes from the Web?

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