By Ben Golliver
The web's latest video dance craze was bound to collide with the most Internet-friendly professional sports league at some point. The wait is over: the Harlem Shake has officially hit the NBA, thanks to Amir Johnson and the Toronto Raptors.
The concept is simple. Two shots. First shot: a sole costumed figure begins dancing slowly as the beat to Baauer's "Harlem Shake" picks up while a group carries on about its business, oblivious to the dancer. Second shot, after a brief cut: the whole group, in zany costumes, goes buck wild as the song hits its electronic fever pitch. That's really all there is to it. Simple, goofy, harmless: everyone from Playboy models to soldiers to college kids to senior citizens has gotten in on the fun in recent weeks. A whole host of mascots and dancers got in on the fun during All-Star Weekend too.
The Raptors' version, filmed in the team's locker room, smartly leads with veteran coach Dwane Casey addressing his team.
"Men, we've got to do a better of getting back in transition, pointing and talking, making sure we know who we've got on the defensive end," Casey said.
Indeed, the Raptors rank No. 23 overall in defensive efficiency and are among the league's worst when it comes to opponent's fast break efficiency. The numbers make the set-up that much better.
Casey, though, is merely a bit player in this festival, as Johnson kicks off the dancing by wearing a hairy ghoulish mask as his teammates pretend to listen to Casey's address. The beat flips, and before you know it, the Raptors are dressed in all manners of costumes: a giant dog, the Raptors mascot, a witch's hat, a Superman outfit, a bird outfit, a dollar bill jacket, a football jersey and a lime green fur coat all make appearances. The team's newest member, Sebastian Telfair, looks to be having the most fun of anyone, surely celebrating the trade deadline deal that saved him from two more months of Michael Beasley airballs in Phoenix.
Through all the hijinks, Casey, whose coaching career dates back to 1979, simply stands with his arms folded, taking it all in. Well done, start to finish. The video was produced by AmirJohnson.com.
It's been a pretty fabulous year for Johnson from an Internet domination perspective. He's tossed his mouthguard at a referee, shaved the Raptors' claw logo into his hair, and pulled off one of the most blatant double dribbles in league history without getting caught. The only question: what could possibly top this?