Here is what we learned tonight, ladies and gentlemen: James Harden is a bad, bad man. Harden looked like an old man version of a young Kobe Bryant, Thursday night against the Dallas Mavericks. Big Mane James (my new nickname for Harden) finished with 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds, in 32 minutes of Gillette-free action.
The defining play of the game for Harden happened late in the fourth quarter on a broken play. With Jason Terry defending him, Big Mane went to work with a series of moves at the top of the key, spinning Terry around like a drunk slut in heat, and then rising up for a line drive jumper as the shot clock expired. As soon as the ball splashed through the net, I jumped from my couch, channeled my inner Marc Jackson and screamed, “Mamma there goes that man!”
Rumor has it the Boston Celtics coveted Big Mane, and tried to convince the Thunder to include him in their midseason trade which sent Jeff Green to the Celtics for the Altar Boy (Kendrick Perkins). Another great move by the Thunder to realize anytime you have a player with a beard like Big James’, you latch onto that beard like it is Rapunzel’s long dreads hanging from a medieval tower.
Aside from Big Mane James’ performance, the rest of the Thunder’s bench came through in a big, big way. With Russell Westbrook riding the pine the entire fourth quarter, Eric Maynor controlled the tempo beautifully for OKC. Maynor finished with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and had the highest plus-minus of any player in Game 2.
The Western Conference Finals is headed to Oklahoma City. If the Dallas Mavericks hope to have any chance of advancing to the NBA Finals, they are going to have to find a way to contain Big Mane James. No easy task for a team led by a fancy German who can barely grow pubic hair, let alone a full man beard.
In 1995, after his team just won their second title, Rudy Tomjanovich famously proclaimed, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion!”
On Thursday night, at the end of his article on the great Big Mane James, Long Ball Larry declared, “Don’t ever underestimate a baller with a beard!”
In time, Long Ball’s declaration will be engraved on the floor of the Oklahoma City Arena. (If athletes can talk in the third person, surely I can write in the third person. It’s not all about you, Lebron.)