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Will Harden’s dunk on Green alter NBA history?

LeBron, Shaq and Jordan had other franchise-changing smashes

1:22 PMOn the dunk Richter scale, nothing ranks higher than a smash that alters the course of a playoff series. (Well, almost nothing.) The funeral James Harden gave Draymond Green on Tuesday night could turn out to be one of those dunks. We expect Harden to rain treys and cook dudes’ legs into spaghetti, of course. But to bang on Green, probably the best all-around defender in the league? On Green’s home court? Then beat the Warriors for their first home playoff loss since Game 7 of the 2016 Finals, and tie the series 2-2? The momentous aftershocks of Harden’s and-1 (he actually got fouled twice: once by Stephen Curry on the reach-in and again by Green at the rim) included Green short-arming a wide-open dunk and the Dubs flinging brick after brick in the pivotal fourth quarter.

If the Rockets can use their home-court advantage over the rest of the series to dethrone Golden State, Harden’s dunk will be remembered among these other legendary bang-outs that shook us harder because of the playoff implications:


Back in 1991, Michael Jordan was still a high-scoring guard who had never won a championship. The future revealed itself in a first-round series against the New York Knicks. Y’all know the legend: MJ evaded a double team from Kiki Vandeweghe and John Starks, shook another double from Starks and Charles Oakley, spun baseline, elevated over the 7-foot Patrick Ewing — and cemented the destiny of two franchises with the and-1.


Like Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant had never won a championship when they faced Portland in the 2000 Western Conference finals. After blowing a 3-1 lead, down 15 in the fourth quarter of Game 7, the Los Angeles Lakers mounted a comeback. With 44 seconds left, Bryant dusted Scottie Pippen with an effortless crossover, knifed into the lane and lobbed a big piece of barbecue chicken up for the big fella. Lakers up 6. Three straight ’chips came next.


In 2007, a ringless LeBron James was down 0-2 against the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern Conference finals. With the score tied deep in the fourth quarter, James blew past two defenders and destroyed Rasheed Wallace, plus the foul. That set the stage for James’ 32 points, a series-swinging win, his first Finals appearance — and too many more playoff posters to count.