When Austin Reaves scored nine straight points in the closing minutes of the fourth quarter to help power the Lakers to a Game 1 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies, he was (understandably) feeling himself.
Thankfully for all of us watching at home, Reaves was also mic’d up for the nationally televised broadcast, which gave us one of the most magical live sound segments of the year — and maybe ever — featuring Reaves unleashing a guttural scream after one clutch bucket and yelling “I’m Him!” repeatedly to silence the road crowd after another:
The internet, unsurprisingly, had a lot of fun with the moment:
How Austin Reaves looking at the Grizzlies pic.twitter.com/mF9MlJHDwy— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) April 16, 2023
austin reaves first ever playoff game pic.twitter.com/toPHF8DGSn— whitney medworth (@its_whitney) April 16, 2023
AUSTIN REAVES LOOKED AT LEBRON AND SAID pic.twitter.com/1Kz0tvcx9O— Daman Rangoola (@damanr) April 16, 2023
But for those unfamiliar with the term’s origin, “I’m Him” is basically Gen Z-speak for exactly what it sounds like in context here: “I am very good, if not the best, at this task that I am currently celebrating my success at.”
Anyway, the moment got a ton of attention online, but Reaves — as anyone who has watched any interview he’s ever done would expect — was content to mostly deflect, offering up a sanitized answer while just crediting the moment to excitement postgame (even as he smiled the whole time after laughing at the question):
“You know, it’s a lot of emotions. You dream about being on a stage like this. These are the best basketball players in the world, it’s the playoffs and you know, I got hot late and had fun.”
"You dream about being on a stage like this. These are the best basketball players in the world, it's the playoffs and you know, I got hot late and just having fun." Austin Reaves on his 'I'm him' celebration in the fourth. pic.twitter.com/mZr2f4WYct— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) April 16, 2023
So it all begs the question...
Is Austin Reaves Him?
On one hand, the quote above does not appear to be a very Him answer on its face. After all, if he was Him, wouldn’t he be happy to outline why he’s Him to them?
On the other hand... is it actually just way more Him to let the statement and buckets stand on their own merits? That Reaves is Him™ was obvious to anyone who watched him torch the NBA’s third-best defense and possible Defensive Player of the Year down the stretch. Does his status as Him really need to be explained after all that? This is the same guy who hit Pat Bev with a “too small” in crunch time earlier this year and once told his agent that the main reason he wanted to make the NBA was to “tell everyone to fuck off.” Coachspeak answers aside, his confidence is unimpeachable.
Unfortunately, no one specifically asked Reaves’ teammates to weigh in of he is indeed “Him” or not after Game 1, but still seemingly arguing in the affirmative was none other than LeBron James, who said Reaves scoring 23 points in his playoff debut were “not a surprise” to anyone around the Lakers.
“I knew the type of player that we were able to get in Austin, so it’s not surprising what he was doing tonight. Maybe to some of you guys who don’t watch him as much or don’t cover him as much, but to me it’s not (a surprise),” James said. “I’m extremely happy for him and I want him to do it again.”
“I knew from the first practice that he wasn’t going to be a two-way player for long... I know the type of players that fit with my game and I knew Austin would be that." @KingJames has high praise for Austin Reaves. pic.twitter.com/GEPj501R86— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) April 16, 2023
Arguably the greatest player of all time not only completely deferring to Reaves down the stretch of a tight playoff game, but basically calling anyone who didn’t know Reaves could do that a casual? That might just be the biggest evidence of Reaves’ Himmitude possible.
But in the end, there are no definitive qualifications that make someone Him. It’s a nebulous concept, one of those things where you know Him when you see Him. And so perhaps the biggest argument in Reaves’ favor is that the entire internet seems to agree: He’s Him.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.