Viral View

Raheel Ramzanali: Examining the timeline of viral moments

James Harden's crossover against Wesley Wright dominated the news cycle. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Last week in the much-anticipated rematch between the Rockets and Clippers, James Harden pulled off the move of the NBA season when he dropped Wesley Johnson with a crossover in the second quarter. While many players fall victim to a crossover and suffer the ever embarrassing ankle break, this one was different, this had the epic stare down from Harden that created one of the most viral moments of the season on social media.

Going viral on Twitter is nothing new for sports moments and because of how common it is, virality now has a timeline of events that most viral moments follow:

  • The Moment: This is the foundation for virality. The moment that made everyone stop and realize that something special just happened. We’re not sure how The Moment is picked, but we as a society just know that it has been picked. In the case of this viral moment, the event occurred roughly at 10:05 p.m. CST.

  • The Bootleg: Soon as The Moment is picked, the first mention we see of it on social is with fans recording their TV and sharing the video so they can be the first to have it. We could all wait about three minutes for the super HD clean versions from official accounts, but nahhh that’s no fun. The first bootleg to hit Twitter occurred roughly at 10:06 p.m. CST.

  • The Official Video: Leagues and teams are REALLY good at getting HD video from viral moments up fast in today’s sports landscape. If a play happened and we didn’t share it on Twitter, did it really happen? Official Video hit the web at 10:08 p.m. CST.

  • The Hyperbole Quote Tweet: This is where the fun really starts with a viral moment. Once the video of the moment hits Twitter, everyone gets in some great hyperbole joke regarding the moment. There were literally thousands of these, but the first one that made me laugh was ESPN’s Jemele Hill tweet that put Johnson into witness protection. These events start soon as the official video goes up and they never end - 10:08 p.m. CST until lifetime.

  • The Internet Bag: Sharing the actual video is fun, but at this point, it is EVERYWHERE. This is why accounts that go into the Internet bag of tricks will shine during a viral moment. Accounts sharing videos and gifs from other memorable moments are fantastic in a viral moment. One of my favorites was this guy using the toddler crossed over video to describe what happened.

  • The Titanic Edit: This is one of the few internet memes I just don’t get, but it is part of the timeline. Somebody will always put in Celine Dion’s "My Heart Will Go On" behind the actual moment and share it. This occurred at 10:28 p.m. CST.

  • The Wikipedia Edit: Wikipedia is the greatest tool and weakness we have on the internet. We literally use it hundreds of times in a month, but we also fall victim to the ease of editing on it during a viral moment. A viral moment really hasn’t gone viral until somebody edits a person’s Wikipedia page. This happened at 10:37 p.m. CST.

  • The Instant Contrarian: I know as a sports talk host I’m supposed to hate the hot take jakes, but gosh, I wish I could’ve jumped in on that trend before and make millions. While most people can’t stand the hot take jakes of the world, I appreciate them because it really is an art to create contrarian takes that will upset people. The hot take jakes really start showing up when something goes viral. There was no chance Skip Bayless was watching the Rockets game, but soon as he saw a moment went viral, he jumped in with the obvious Game 6 blast and “it really wasn’t that great of a move” take. This event occurred at 10:44 p.m. CST.

  • The Good Ol’ JR (Jim Ross) Treatment: If JR wasn’t the voice of your childhood then you need to stop reading this story and go back and watch some great moments from the WWE. If he was the voice of your childhood, then you already know this social media trend where people dub over a JR call to the viral moment. This occurred at 11 p.m. CST.

  • The Sh*t Can We Still Get Play Out Of This?: Look, some social media managers like to sleep and they will miss a great moment, but worry not because these social media managers will play the “let’s get some hits the day after” card and share the moment again. This occurred March 1st at 8:20 a.m. CST.

  • The Next Day Edits: These are the best because the person editing really cares about the quality of work and will put in some actual effort as opposed to the JR and Titanic crew. My favorite was this person’s Fortnite edit. This occurred at 6:41 p.m. CST on March 1st. Also, I don’t play Fortnite so please don’t ask me. Now get off my lawn!

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Justin Verlander is signing with the Mets. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

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