James Harden put the COVID-19 talk to rest when he finally joined his Houston Rockets in Orlando. Now he is facing criticism for a mask he wore.
James Harden looked elated to be back on the court with his fellow Rockets’ teammates sans Russell Westbrook, who is currently battling COVID-19 on Thursday (Jul.16).
There was excitement to see the NBA’s best scorer back on a basketball court doing what he does best, there was also some criticism being floated at Harden. Many fans, particularly Black ones, were not too happy to see Harden rocking a mask with what seemed to be a “Thin Blue Line” design in a photo the Houston Rockets shared with the caption “Mask Up.”
While telling people to wear masks has become a hot button issue in the United States, it was the imagery on the face-covering that is catching people’s ire. “Thin Blue Line” is a pro-police symbol, but many have also claimed it could be tied to white supremacy and is a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement. It also features the “punisher skull,” which has also been affiliated with far-right hate groups.
Immediately once the picture shared, it was met with criticism. R&B singer, Trey Songz retweeted the photo with the caption:
“This certified clown shit. I’ll say it for everybody who scared to. FOH”
On the other hand, Harden’s friend, rapper Young Thug defended his “brada” claiming that Harden doesn’t have the internet and didn’t know about the “Thin Blue Line” symbolism.
“Just so u know James harden is my brada… btw he don’t have internet so he obviously don’t know what’s right or wrong if he posted something that’s against US…but I hate when rappers get in niggas biz like it’s can’t happen to em. Buster let niggas clear they shit up activist.”
Interesting, does that mean Harden doesn’t have a TV as well? Cause clearly he knows about what’s going on in the Houston streets. While in the bubble, Harden did speak favorably about the protests for racial equality in Houston.
“The way the city just like rallied, it was amazing. I think the world saw it. The march and everything we’re standing for is very powerful.”
Well, you can either chalk this up to just ignorance or James knowing precisely what he was doing by wearing the mask. We’re going to give Harden the benefit of the doubt. You can peep more reactions to the Harden rocking the face-covering in the gallery below.
Photo: Icon Sportswire / Getty