“Honestly, I wasn’t trying to make a political statement,” Harden said. “I wore it because it covered my whole face, my beard. I thought it looked cool. That was it.”
He added that he was still in the process of finding a way that he could voice his support for Black Lives Matter during the NBA’s upcoming restart, whether it be wearing a message on his jersey or something else.
“I’m in the process of doing that right now,” Harden told ESPN’s Tim McMahon. In regards to police, the 2018 MVP said, “There’s people who do their job at a high level and there’s BS people in every profession.”
The Rockets tweeted the photo on Thursday evening, writing “Mask Up” along with the photo of Harden wearing a “Thin Blue Line” mask, which critics describe as not only being pro-police, but also white supremacist and oppressive to Black Lives Matter, according to Politico. The Punisher skull, which was apart of Harden’s mask, has also been associated with far-right groups, despite the creator of the character denouncing the association.
The NBA also tweeted out Harden wearing the mask with the caption, “The Masked Beard!”
One could argue that the Rockets and the NBA were promoting mask safety in an era where COVID-19 is still gravely impacting communities. There’s the possibility that neither Harden, The Rockets nor the NBA knew the meaning behind his mask. However, considering their massive followings and the current national discussions around police violence, it’s hard for some fans to believe that there isn’t some kind of awareness. Neither party involved has released a statement as of Friday morning.
Some folks on Twitter weren’t taking any excuses. “It appears that @JHarden13, the @HoustonRockets, and the @NBA are unified in their support of fascist, white supremacist iconography,” one user tweeted. “They deserve the dragging they’re receiving. Ignorance doesn’t excuse this shit.”
Even singer Trey Songz slammed the Rockets’ post, tweeting, “This certified clown sh*t. I’ll say it for everybody who scared to. FOH.”
“The way the city just like rallied, it was amazing. I think the world saw it,” he said earlier on Thursday. “The march and everything we’re standing for is very powerful.”
Rapper Young Thug also defended Harden by suggesting that the Rockets star didn’t know the meaning behind the Thin Blue Line imagery. “He don’t have internet so he obviously don’t know what’s right or wrong if he posted something that’s against US,” Young Thug tweeted. Many people were amused by his “he don’t have internet” line, considering Harden is present on Twitter and Facebook.
Various NBA players have been vocal about their support for Black Lives Matter and even the NBA will reportedly paint “Black Lives Matter” on the courts at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, according to The Washington Post. The NBA will also allow players to wear social justice messages in place of their names on their jerseys.
Unlike fellow players like LeBron James, Harden has rarely been vocal about politics, however. When asked on Thursday whether he’d rock a message on his jersey, Harden told ESPN’s Marc J. Spears, “I’m in the process of figuring out if I’m going to put a message on my back and other ways to deliver my (social justice) message.”
Harden and the Rockets are set to play their first game on July 31 in Florida after the season was stifled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
NBA Legends React To Kobe Bryant's Passing
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Kobe was so much more than an athlete, he was a family man. That was what we had most in common. I would hug his children like they were my own and he would embrace my kids like they were his. His baby girl Gigi was born on the same day as my youngest daughter Me’Arah. pic.twitter.com/BHBPN5Wq8V— SHAQ (@SHAQ) January 26, 2020
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Statement from Larry Bird on the passing of Kobe: pic.twitter.com/x3zk0eHOOP— Scott Agness (@ScottAgness) January 26, 2020
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Most people will remember Kobe as the magnificent athlete who inspired a whole generation of basketball players. But I will always remember him as a man who was much more than an athlete. pic.twitter.com/9EZuwk8wrV— Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (@kaj33) January 26, 2020
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I’m stunned. Words can’t even come close to describing it. Just an incredibly sad and tragic day.— Scottie Pippen (@ScottiePippen) January 26, 2020
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This is not real right now— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) January 26, 2020
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Statement from Jerry West on the passing of Kobe Bryant: pic.twitter.com/miNDpJUsXm— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) January 26, 2020
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Sadly absorbing the tragic news about my teammates loss of his Son and granddaughter. Joe and Pam I humbly offer my condolences. Vanessa so sorry for your loss and pray you remain strong and focused on you and Kobe’s dreams for your family. Here Always for you...— Julius Dr J Erving (@JuliusErving) January 26, 2020
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Laker Nation, the game of basketball & our city, will never be the same without Kobe. Cookie & I are praying for Vanessa, his beautiful daughters Natalia, Bianka & Capri, as well as his parents Joe & Pam & his sisters. We will always be here for the Bryant family. pic.twitter.com/WWxmtEAJqZ— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) January 26, 2020
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James Harden Responds To Wearing Controversial Mask In NBA Bubble: “Not A Political Statement” was originally published on newsone.com