Houston Rockets point guard James Harden does not take lightly to insults, particularly when he’s about to step onto the court for Game 2 of the second-round playoffs against the Utah Jazz. According to Bleacher Report, Harden was casually walking out and presumably getting ready to focus on the game at hand, when a fan unexpectedly told him to his face, “You’re still the worst flopper in the NBA.” Harden immediately slapped at the man's phone.
Fortunately, Harden isn’t stupid, and was well aware that fighting a fan in front of a televised crowd was probably a bad look—particularly when there’s a phone in his face. Of course, it's not like this was a scuffle-worthy interaction, but Harden still had to check the dude and let him know that statements like this are utterly disrespectful and uncalled for. Here’s the incident in its entirety, for your viewing pleasure.
Afterward, an officer reprimanded the fan, telling him to “stay away, get back to your seat,” before the shockingly insulted victim of phone-slapping complained. “He just hit my phone,” the fan said. The officer reminded him that being vocal about the game is one thing, but he plainly crossed the line by directly addressing a player.
“We don’t mind you cheering, but when talking to the—you walked over here,” the officer said. “Sir, it’s real simple. Your seat is over there, there’s no reason for you to be over here in the first place, alright?”
Unfortunately for Harden, the Jazz evened the series by winning 116-108, with Harden responsible for 32 points. There’s a chance for redemption on Friday, however, when the Rockets host the Jazz for Game 3. Hopefully, fans will think twice before insulting someone trying to do their all, and reconsider how cool it would be to do so in the future.