Houston Rockets player James Harden became the subject of controversy after a photo of him wearing a “Thin Blue Line” mask went viral. Some of his fans interpreted this as Harden’s way of showing his support for the “Blue Lives Matter” movement.
However, the Rockets guard maintained that he only wore the mask because it covered his beard.
“It was just something that covered my whole beard,” he told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. “I thought it looked cool. That was it.”
While the flag is usually used to show support for the police, Harden maintained that he wasn’t trying to make a political statement.
MacMahon later tweeted: “James Harden said wearing this mask — associated with ‘Blue Lives Matter’ — was not meant to make a political statement. He said he wore it because it covers his beard and wasn’t aware of the association.”
Speaking to ESPN, Harden stated that he was considering ways to support some of the social justice initiative, including adding a message on the back of his jersey. He also revealed his thoughts about the police.
“I’m in the process of doing that right now,” he said. “There’s people who do their job at a high level and there’s B.S. people in every profession.”
Harden did not arrive in Orlando with the team, and some fans were concerned that he may have tested positive for coronavirus, especially after Russell Westbrook did test positive. However, Harden maintained that he got delayed because of “family issues.”
“Houston Rockets star James Harden says his delay in getting to Orlando was due to ‘family issues,’” Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes tweeted.
Harden was briefly quarantined at Disney because he arrived after his teammates. He has started practicing with the team and head coach Mike D’Antoni stated that Harden looked to be in great shape.
“Today he went through practice as much as anybody else and his wind was as good as anybody else, so obviously he’s been working, anyway,” D’Antoni told The Athletic. “They ramped him up well before he got here.”
Harden is rumored to be in better shape than he was when NBA games were paused in March. In May, Harden spoke about his workout routine in an interview with Insider.
“I have a treadmill,” he said. “I have jump ropes, I have weights, I have a pretty nice-sized backyard where I do a lot of sprints and things like that.”