The inaugural NBA Awards had their ups and downs, but there were plenty of memorable moments from the league's first attempt at an awards show. Drake exceeded expectations as a host and kept the mood in the room light, not backing down from an opportunity to roast some of the NBA's best players.
But if you're looking for the most meme-worthy moment of the night, there was only one choice. When Nicki Minaj took the stage to perform a series of songs dissing rival rapper Remy Ma, she won over one fan in particular—MVP candidate and Rockets guard James Harden. Harden stared on intently during Minaj's performance, looking like an exuberant boyfriend as he clapped for Nicki.
Twitter wasn't about to let The Beard get away with this one. As soon as he was spotted looking so eager, the public was happy to turn him into a punch line.
James Harden looking at Nicki Minaj like he found the secret to immortality. pic.twitter.com/iiS5SNbydP— Josh Eberley 🇨🇦 (@JoshEberley) June 27, 2017
James Harden looks more focused here on Nicki Minaj than he was in game 6 against the Spurs lmfaooooooooo pic.twitter.com/2T8YNBja6v— BK (@bk17__) June 27, 2017
When James Harden sees Nicki Minaj in the Bleachers Next Season 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/l8i6Ljflki— The Lead (@NBALEAD) June 27, 2017
James Harden Already in Nicki DM's— Singh (@S1NGH7) June 27, 2017
James harden about to drop 50k at the club with Nicki Minaj— Astros_feed (@rockets_feed) June 27, 2017
Find yourself someone who looks at you like James Harden looked at Nicki Minaj just now #NBAAwards— Hamza (@ham_stache) June 27, 2017
I wish someone would look at my like James harden looks at nicki Minaj.. pic.twitter.com/qqI4KLtoAp— KING KAM (@kingkam_21) June 27, 2017
Harden looking at Nicki Minaj the way Russ looking at the MVP trophy pic.twitter.com/wTq2nRibwQ— Legends (@LegendsofCH) June 27, 2017
Cold-hearted observers went a step further, comparing Harden's glee during the performance to his anguish after he lost out on the MVP award to Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook.
For James Harden, it was the best of times (watching Nicki Minaj perform), it was the worst of times (watching Russell Westbrook win MVP) pic.twitter.com/fSGgUF4KpX— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) June 27, 2017
On one hand, you would think a man of Harden's stature would be a little more coy about the whole thing. This isn't the first time he's been around a celebrity before, so you would expect him to avoid melting into a puddle just because he's in the same room with Nicki . At the same time, it's Nicki! So I can understand finding yourself a little lost in the moment.
The next time Harden decides he's going to gaze lovingly at Nicki, perhaps he should just wait until he's in a more private setting. Although, given his track record with famous and beautiful women, he probably doesn't need anyone else's advice here.