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James Harden crosses up Los Angeles

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James Harden crosses up Los Angeles

Houston Rockets' James Harden looks to shoot.

Houston Rockets' James Harden looks to shoot.

Wikimedia.com

Houston Rockets' James Harden looks to shoot.

Wikimedia.com

Wikimedia.com

Houston Rockets' James Harden looks to shoot.

Devon Greene, Sports Editor

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When you’re a professional athlete, all eyes are on you 24 hours a day. Contrary to the popular belief, athletes make the same amount of mistakes as an everyday person does. They also get embarrassed just like we do, but there was a particularly embarrassing play that occurred on Wednesday night that I really want to shine alight onto.

It was a clear spring night in Los Angeles on the final night of February and the Los Angeles Clippers were scheduled to host the best team currently in the NBA, the Houston Rockets. These two teams had the most ludicrous spat of the NBA season earlier this year when real life turned into a movie and the Rockets used diversions and secret tunnels hidden within the Staples Center, in an attempt to sneak into the Clippers locker room and fight one of the most disliked players in the NBA and son of the Clippers’ head coach, Austin Rivers.

On the second meeting of the season between the two bitter rivals, the game began like any other. The Clippers have been one of the worst teams in the league this season and after they traded Blake Griffin to Detroit, they cemented their place as a rebuilding franchise. So naturally, the Rockets were making the Clippers look like the Flint Tropics from “Semi-Pro” before they traded to get Monix. Only 10:34 into the game, the Rockets were already leading by 21 points which is already embarrassing enough for an NBA team to say “Ah, we gave it our best shot, can we head to the locker room yet?” But then, MVP front-runner, James “The Beard” Harden, decided to absorb the entire city of Houston in his very large face accessory so they would have to listen to his uproarious laughter after he performed the most disrespectful act of theNBA season.

With 1:22 left in the first quarter, Harden met NBA veteran Wesley Johnson at the left arch of the three-point line. Harden squared his shoulders and began to size up the 30-year-old defender. His first move was a dribble between the legs to get a gauge on how close Johnson was guarding him, he then drove towards the basket with Johnson blanketed on his right arm. It was at that moment, Johnson knew he messed up. The Beard then pulled out a step-back dribble that immediately turned Johnsons legs into a pair of Sour Punch Straws. Johnson was left in a position that is never good to be in on a basketball court, sitting on his gluteus maximus.

Ask any basketball player and they will tell you that getting crossed over so bad that you fall, is one of their worst nightmares. This has only happened to me once in my basketball playing career. I lived in South Korea for a while because my dad was in the military, so we lived on a military base and there was a gym called Kelly Gym, where I spent most of my time playing basketball, because there wasn’t much else to do that I was interested in. My friends and I would play pickup games with soldiers who never really had that great of basketball skills to begin with. There was one day we were playing a pickup game and I was guarding one of my friends and there was a wet spot on the floor. My friend was wide open on the three-point line and I knew he was a shooter and I didn’t want to let him have a wide-open shot, so I went out to guard him. He pump-faked and began to dribble as I reached the arch and then I slipped. My knees clacked together like Bambi and I was left looking up at the ceiling of Kelly Gym, as my life flashed before my eyes.

In pickup games, when somebody falls for whatever reason during the game, it stops. But when somebody gets crossed up and falls, the game stops and everyone runs around screaming and laughing at that person. And that is exactly what happened to me. I got up and tried to explain that there was a wet spot on the floor and looked for a person to support me in my darkest of moments and say that I was too good to be crossed up and fall the way that I did. The game went on, but I was never the same that day. I went home and just stared at my feet for the remainder of the night and asked them what I did to make them betray me the way they did. Even though this was one of the most embarrassing experiences of my basketball playing career, it’s nothing compared to Johnson’s.

There Johnson was, sitting on the floor of Staples Center looking out at the crowd, just a little bit outside the paint and under the free throw line. Harden was at the three-point line standing all alone. Harden then decided to stand there and stare admiring the wreckage of the nuclear bomb that he had detonated. It seemed like he stared at Johnson for a long period of time, but in reality, it was only three seconds. It’s amazing the difference three seconds makes in the grand scheme of things.

If Harden had just crossed over Johnson, made him fall and immediately shot the ball, the play would most certainly be on SportsCenter the following day. It would be talked about for weeks and possibly months. The play is already being called one of the most disrespectful plays in NBA history and it would be hard for anyone to argue against it.

I want to send my condolences to the Johnson family. Johnson is a father of two twin boys and I don’t know what he is going to tell them about his personal tragedy. If I was him, I’d probably just start homeschooling my boys and ban them from watching television for the remainder of their lives.

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The independent student newspaper of Western Illinois University. Serving Macomb since 1905.
James Harden crosses up Los Angeles