The defining theme of the playoffs for Utah Jazz fans so far seems to be getting their cell phones broken by NBA superstars.
This time it was James Harden who did the phone slapping, less than a week after Thunder star Russell Westbrook’s testy response to fans in Game 6 of the first round, when the Jazz eliminated the Thunder at home.
The twist in this incident, which occurred on Wednesday? It was Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals, which meant the game was actually in Houston and the Jazz fan was in hostile territory.
And the offense that had Harden up in arms?
Prior to the game, the fan called the Rockets’ superstar “the worst flopper in the NBA.”
For one thing, that’s an unfair slander on Harden. Anyone who watches “Inside the NBA”, TNT’s postgame show, knows from their “Shaqtin’ A Fool” segment that the worst flopper in the league is Boston’s Marcus Smart.
Still, the fan does have a point. Harden is a master at the gamesmanship of leaping into contact during a shot attempt, which should be an offensive foul, to the point where Harden’s name appears three times in the top 14 seasons of all-time for made free throws. Most of the other players on the list — Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain and Oscar Robertson — played in an era where you were given three free throws to make two of them.
The video footage clearly demonstrates what happens when you heckle the home team’s star player in his own arena:
The fan yelled his taunt about Harden’s proclivity for flopping. Harden slapped his phone away, and then the cops intervened.
The police officers seemed to take Harden’s side, telling the fan, “you ain’t supposed to be down here.”
The fan, incredulous, adopted the “what did I do?” attitude, like he didn’t know what he did was wrong. Is this his first trip to an NBA arena?
And finally, after the cops make it clear that this is Houston, and “(Harden) wouldn’t have been able to do that if you hadn’t come down here,” the fan returned to his seat and promised to behave.
It was beautiful. That fan belongs on Shaqtin’.
Harden had one of those games that looks great if you glance at the counting stats (32 points), until you realize he shot 9-of-22 (40.9 percent) from the field and 2-of-10 from three-point range. He had to be bailed out by the refs (12-of-13 on free throws) to accumulate that many points.
Plus, the Jazz got the last laugh, sending the series to Salt Lake City for Games 3 and 4 with the series tied at one game apiece.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.