It’s a simple video. Around thirty seconds, like all the “Harlem Shake” variants, divided into the standard pre-and-post-break sections of about fifteen seconds each. Except instead of the video breaking from a single-person freakout (in this case, a gentleman wearing a helmet and a motorcycle helmet and a LeBron James Heat jersey) to a room full of Baauer spazzers, as traditionally happens in the meme, the operation is interrupted by Minnesota Timberwolves mascot Crunch the Wolf, who beats the initial Harlem Shaker with a plastic baseball bat. It’s an easy, relatively cheap joke, and one it’s a little surprising nobody has made up until now.
It’s also one of the best things to happen to the NBA in 2013.
When the Wolves released the video, first during their game against the Heat two nights ago at the Target Center, then to the internet the next morning (with a following tweet that read “You’re Welcome, Internet. #EndTheShake”), the NBA blog community (including TBJ, natch), was quick to name the video the best of the “Harlem Shake” iterations we’d seen, at least from NBA circles, thus far. They may have no idea just how right they all were. As basic a joke as the video was, it contains myriad details and implications that belie the video’s short run-time and single-line gimmick.
Let’s break down the reasons why:
1. Even before Crunch’s entrance, it’s an excellent parody of a “Harlem Shake” video.
Watching it for the first time, the Wolves’ “Harlem Shake” creates the same kind of anxiety that one of those Sears commercials with the fake movies and TV shows does before somebody invariably runs into a refrigerator. Which is to say, that something about it feels off, fake, fabricated, but it’s just plausible enough that you’re not entirely sure if you’re watching a parody or not until the twist occurs. The listless guy dancing in an empty assembly room, it seems very much like the setup to any number of legit “Harlem Shake” vids, but there’s a barely perceptible lag in energy to it — the guy’s just a little too limp in his movements, a little too behind the beat rhythmically. Something’s not right.
When Crunch enters with the baseball bat at the song’s break to lay the video to waste, it’s at once a shock and a relief. Like any decent twist ending, you don’t see it coming, but it still somehow explains everything.