If you missed the Thunder’s series-clinching, come-from-behind 103-97 win over the Mavericks this weekend, here’s the short version of events: James Harden was awesome. He scored 29 points (15 in the OKC-dominated fourth quarter), added five rebounds, five assists, three steals and a block, and the fact that he’s paired with the always-dangerous Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant left Dirk Nowitzki to lament how Dallas just couldn’t match the number of weapons the Thunder have. (To our ears, this lament sounded for all the world like, “Go out and get me Deron Williams, Cubes.”)
But Harden’s continued emergence has some others wondering about different things – like his next contract. Harden will be a restricted free agent next year, and speculation about the type of money he could receive when he hits the market ranges from $10 million annually to even a max deal. Obviously, the Thunder will want to keep Harden, but this will be something to keep an eye on. And one reporter was apparently really curious about this “max deal for Harden” scenario – so much so that he asked Russell Westbrook about it after Game 4. It didn’t go especially well:
There were many reasons for this not to go especially well – contracts probably weren’t on anyone’s mind in the aftermath of an intense playoff game, Harden won’t be a free agent for another year (and even then, he’ll just be a restricted free agent), and also, Russell Westbrook is not James Harden. Still, you have to feel a little bad for the guy pretty much getting laughed out of the room as soon as Westbrook says “No more questions for you, bro,” no?
And there was something else that stuck out to us, and reading the Youtube comments, we weren’t alone (granted, we’re not sure that citing Youtube comments enhances our argument, but play along with us for a minute). To us, after Westbrook thoroughly owns poor Contract Guy, it sounds like he mutters “Troll.” at the 24-second mark. Did he? That’s up for debate, but we’re not the only ones who thought it sounded like it – and it would make his retort infinitely better.
As internet people, hearing common internet-person terms (possibly) make it into NBA press conferences delights us to no end. As for whether the guy asking the question was actually a troll, we don’t think so: we imagine he was genuinely fascinated by the prospect of whether or not James Harden may one day get a max deal, and perhaps overestimated the degree of interest in Harden’s contract at the moment. If the reporter’s looking for a silver lining in the exchange: hey, at least it wasn’t Gregg Popovich he asked.