‘Throwing shade’ isn’t a term that is widely used south of the equator. Australians are more used to the idea of sledging or banter.
Throwing shade is a little different and usually requires you to back up the actions on the field. After James Harden’s effort for the Rockets this week, here are some of the best exponents of the craft.
James Harden – Houston Rockets 2018
The Rockets have got some swagger about them this season with a 13-game winning streak they look the team most likely to break the Warriors stranglehold on the NBA championship. Their star James Harden has his sights set on his first league MVP and with moves like this, you can see why the man known as ‘the beard’ is the red-hot favourite.
When it comes to throwing shade, Harden is a master of letting his game do the talking. Just check out the stare down of the Clipper’s Wesley Johnson.
Muhammad Ali – Rumble in the Jungle 1974 – ‘Float Like a Butterfly’
Pick any Muhammad Ali fight and you’ll come across some great lines. Ali was the original master when it came to throwing shade towards opponents. The iconic Rumble in The Jungle was one of Ali’s many triumphs winning the title against George Foreman. There were genuine fears for Ali’s safety against the younger World Champion. In advance of the fight, Ali coined one of his greatest lines.
“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. His hands can’t hit what his eyes can’t see. Now you see me, now you don’t. George thinks he will, but I know he won’t.”
Ali would go to shock Foreman and the world, by stopping the younger fighter in the eighth round and adding to his legacy.
Connor McGregor – UFC 205 – 2016
Irish UFC superstar Connor McGregor is the modern-day Ali. McGregor has made a name for himself with his brash outside the ring, backed up with his deeds inside the cage. The UFC champion is notorious for his verbal barrage of opponents before and during a bout. In the lead-up to his fight up with Eddie Alvarez, the Irish fighter targeted Alvarez at every opportunity. McGregor would go onto to demolish Alvarez at the event in New York and claim the belt.
Leigh Matthews – Brisbane Lions 2003 – ‘Player of the Century’
Leigh Matthews was considered by his peers to be one of the greatest players of his day in AFL football. The Hawthorn legend was equally adept as a coach. Matthews coached Collingwood to a premiership before turning his attention to the Brisbane Lions.
The Lions under Matthews would become one of the greatest sides of the modern era, appearing in four AFL Grand Finals and winning three flags. Matthews had created a team of players that were without peer and they attempted to let their coach know at every opportunity. When one of his players jokingly questioned his coach’s ability after another win, Matthews has the perfect response.
George Gregan – Wallabies 2003 – ‘Four More years’
The semi-final of the 2003 World Cup saw the Wallabies come up against their arch rivals the All-Blacks. New Zealand was considered the red-hot favourites to lift the trophy that year with one of the greatest line-ups in world rugby. Australia shocked the All-Blacks by winning the semi-final against the odds. Nothing captured the rivalry better than Wallabies vice-captain George Gregan reminding his opposite number Byron Kelleher of New Zealand’s hoodoo in World Cup Finals. Gregan can be clearly seen saying ‘four more years’.
Steve Waugh – 1999 World Cup – ‘You Just Dropped the World Cup’
Former Australian cricket captain Steve Waugh loved was known for his mental toughness on the field. During a Super Sixes match with South Africa during the 1999 World Cup, Australia had to chase 272 to stay alive in the competition. South African opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs dropped a straightforward catch off the Australia skipper. After dropping the catch Waugh made him pay by telling him he just dropped the World Cup.
Michael Jordan – 1987 – ‘Big Enough’
Jordan was considered by many to be without equal in his prime. The Chicago Bulls point-guard would go onto to score 47 points against the Utah Jazz. What made the moment special was that Jordan responded to the heckling of a Jazz supporter who took exception to Jordan’s dunk over John Stockton because of his relatively small statue by NBA standards. Jordan then followed up with a dunk over the reserve centre, he then turned to the fan and asked, ‘big enough for ya’.
Luis Suarez – 2015 – ‘I had to score’
Barcelona were up against PSG in a Champions League match and forward Luis Suarez stole the show. The forward put a nutmeg on PSG David Luiz that left the defender grasping at air. When asked about the moment after the game, Suarez told the reporter, ‘I had to score.’