The date was January 9, 2019. By all accounts, it was just like any other winter day. However, by the end of that early January night, fans of the NBA and/or people who enjoy generally funny occurrences would get to witness something amazing.
Early in the fourth quarter in Houston, the Milwaukee Bucks had a commanding 98-86 lead over the Rockets. As the clock ticked down toward the nine-minute mark, Giannis Antetokounmpo dribbled into the paint. Then it happened.
Thinking Malcolm Brogdon was open for a corner three, the Bucks star fired a high-velocity pass in the direction of his teammate, which proceeded to zoom right into the unsuspecting dome of James Harden. The reigning MVP got knocked to the floor and was left clutching his head. As if being clocked in the skull by the leather-bound missile wasn’t bad enough, the ricochet off Harden’s cranium miraculously redirected the ball back in the vicinity of the Greek Freak, who then dished it to Ersan Ilyasova for a clutch three-pointer.
The play was so spectacular for a number of reasons. Had Ersan missed the shot, if Antetokounmpo never got the ball back, if the ball redirected out of bounds, if the Bucks wound up losing the game, or if this wasn’t an instance of one NBA superstar braining another, it would’ve just been another forgettable moment during a mid-season contest. Instead, everything went just right and fans got to see something unforgettable. And when factoring in that it wasn’t intentional and that the only injury Harden sustained was to his pride, it was nothing short of perfection.
When asked about the play, Giannis—who apologized to Harden immediately—said “my bad.”
Once he recovered from the initial shock, Harden was able to laugh it off. During post-game interviews, he offered his take on being on the receiving end of the errant pass. “Hell no, I didn’t see it coming,” Harden said. “Shit hurt.”
Less than six months later, shit would hurt again when Harden wound up coming in second to Antetokounmpo in MVP voting. Merry “Giannis Drilling James Harden In The Side Of The Head With A Pass Day” to all and to all a good night.