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NBA Playoffs Fan Fiction: Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Los Angeles Lakers

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Xavier McDaniel teaches James Worthy a lesson in stamina (Andrew D. Bernstein/ Getty).

In which Metta World Peace challenges James Harden to a gunfight in the Old West.

James Harden had no idea what he had done wrong. He and his prospecting partners Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook had gone to the saloon expecting a few shots of bathtub whiskey and a good run of faro. Instead, they were greeted by one of West's most feared gunfighters: the contradictorily named World Peace. For years, the settlers of the land had passed around stories of World Peace and his taste for blood. Some said that he had been raised by coyotes, while others maintained that he simply counted the animals as his only true friends. Whatever was true, no one wanted to get on his bad side. There was no telling what might happen.

Harden had sidled up to the bar and ordered a bottle of whiskey for his friends. The bartender told him he was lucky, for it was the last of their stock. When an already-soused World Peace came to the bar demanding another drink, the bartender could only offer him a sarsaparilla. World Peace picked him up by the scruff of his neck and dragged him across the table out of anger. But he was not done.

"Which one of you varmints done soaked up my whiskey?!" yelled World Peace. "I'll kill the man who done it!" No one came forward for several moments. Harden, a responsible man of strong stock, finally spoke up.

"I was the one who—" Before he could finish World Peace had hit him over the head with the bottle of sarsaparilla. Harden crumpled to the floor, and World Peace merely walked over him and out the doors. Durant and Westbrook rushed to their friend's aid, but he was out cold and wouldn't come to for 15 more minutes.

World Peace, surprisingly, was immediately arrested by Sheriff Stu Jackson and his loyal deputies. After six days of sobriety and general boredom in the local jail cell, he was released. Harden, in time, improved and return to his prospecting. But no one knew quite what would happen when the two met next.

One day, World Peace and his posse — a languorous man named Andrew Bynum; Pau, whose name everyone pronounced incorrectly; and Steve Blake, who some suspected of being a halfwit — came upon Harden and his prospector friends.

"Hey there varmint! A creaky old prospector with a beard down to his ankles might not be no gunslinger, but he must pay! Meet me tomorrow at high noon at the center of town! You'll get yours!"

Harden and his friends didn't know what to do. Should he face World Peace and risk death? Or would it be better to avoid him entirely? After much discussion, most of which centered on Westbrook saying they should organize a sneak attack while World Peace and his posse slept. Harden would have none of it. He was a man of honor, and he agreed to meet World Peace at the center of town the next day. He would meet his fate, whatever it might be.

Harden arose early the next week and practiced his marksmanship in the woods. He'd never faced a gunslinger before, let alone one as fearsome as World Peace, and he was a little nervous. After a couple hours of practice, plus his customary mid-morning nap, Harden arrived at the meeting spot. It was 15 minutes to noon, and World Peace was nowhere in sight. With about five minutes left to wait, the townspeople started to assemble. But there was still no sign of the scariest man in the Wild West.

Noon passed, and still World Peace was nowhere to be found. Could he have chickened out? Was Harden of stronger character? How could a gunslinger be late to a draw he had scheduled? There was no answer. But, at 12:15, the townspeople started to leave.

Fifteen minutes later, Harden was ready to go on his way. But then, Westbrook and Durant rode in on their horses with smiles as big as the Grand Canyon.

"Hoo boy, that was some gold rush, if you get what I mean!" hollered Durant.

"Now that's what I call a killing!" answered Westbrook.

"What do you mean, guys?" asked Harden. "We struck it rich?"

"No, you dingbat!" said Durant. "We got 'em in their sleep like Russ said we should."

Prediction: Thunder in 6.

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