James Harden sat on the bench watching the Philadelphia 76ers on defense against the Denver Nuggets Saturday when the thought hit him: He was supposed to be in the game.
Harden leaped off the bench and took two steps onto the court — where he was promptly nailed in the head by a pass from 76ers guard Bones Hyland.
What was James Harden doing?? 😭 pic.twitter.com/eWBrvG82wl
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 28, 2023
Officials assessed a technical foul, and NBA highlight video editors had their clip for one of the wackiest plays of the year. The play was oddly reminiscent of the faux food-delivery driver who walked on the court earlier this week during an NCAA basketball game, only Harden didn’t have a bag of food.
The NBA world reacted as you’d expect, with a ton of laughing emojis and good-natured ribbing of Harden’s boneheaded play.
Milwaukee Bucks center Serge Ibaka asked, “My brother! @JHarden13 what are you doing?”
My brother! @JHarden13 what are you doing ? 🤣🤣🤣 https://t.co/8hNgcH1p2m
— Serge Ibaka (@sergeibaka) January 29, 2023
Former NBA star Rex Chapman joked, “James Harden’s best defensive effort of all time…”
James Harden’s best defensive effort of all time… https://t.co/MhffF8glFO
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) January 28, 2023
Yo WTF was James Harden doing 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/besMUMcGSO
— Solo (@YT_Solo) January 28, 2023
James harden with one of the greatest plays I ever seen lol pic.twitter.com/gF1O2pvcdb
— Jamal Cristopher (@JamCristopher) January 28, 2023
Say what you want, James Harden’s off the bench help side defense is elite. @KevinOConnorNBA pic.twitter.com/K24eoJs42c
— Brian Oddo (@brianoddo20) January 28, 2023
Harden had the final laugh, however, as the 76ers beat the Nuggets, 126-119. The 10-time All-Star and former MVP had a great game, with 17 points and 13 assists. As NBA analyst Jackson Frank noted on Twitter, “The Sixers are 20-5 with the NBA’s best offense since James Harden returned. Offense has won in a variety of ways and withstood a bunch of different coverages. As good as it gets around the league offensively this season.”
The Sixers are 20-5 with the NBA's best offense since James Harden returned. Offense has won in a variety of ways and withstood a bunch of different coverages.
As good as it gets around the league offensively this season.
— Jackson Frank (@jackfrank_jjf) January 29, 2023