The Clinch: Alternate Angles – Since NBA TV can snatch up any game for it’s Fan Night, eliminating the game from League Pass, I digested the game via ESPN Gamecast–one of the most ulcer-inducing sports media in existence.
But that also means I’ll remember the winning basket differently from most. It came across the feed as a cold-blooded shot from James Harden at the buzzer. Glorious. I saw the net flick, the bench explode, and the crowd lose itself in adulation…all in my mind’s eye. I patted the number 13 jersey on my chest and nodded as if there could have only ever been one outcome. A few seconds later the goaltending call floated across the feed, and I knew I was in for one heck of a replay, but I had no doubt the call would stand on account of referees being unfathomably stubborn creatures.
Given James Harden’s whistle-dependent style of play, it’s fitting that he clinched the Rockets’ playoff hopes on a technicality. Still, I can always remember that play as I saw it in my head: the archetypal triumph of the Hero and his Moment.
Super 8 – James Harden is the 8th best player in the universe (assuming that the NBA is the highest level of competition anywhere), according to ESPN’s #NBArank. The players ahead of him: LeBron, Durant, Chris Paul, Kobe, Westbrook, Wade, Parker. A few notable names below him: Carmelo, Duncan, Dwight, Kyrie Irving, Dirk, Blake Griffin, Chris Bosh, Injured Derrick Rose.
In other words, a bunch of guys who the Rockets would have coveted as a team cornerstone less than a year ago would be the second-best player on the team now.
P.S. – The Lakers and Warriors also won, which means the 6th seed is still floating a few inches from Houston’s grasp, and the 8th seed is still a possibility.
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