James Harden has been heavily criticized for wearing a “Blue Lives Matter” mask upon his arrival in the Orlando bubble.
The Rockets’ superstar guard has finally joined his team at the Disney World campus. Harden took a few extra days to make the voyage out to the Sunshine State. He has two weeks to get up to speed after a multi-month break due to the COVID-19 pandemic and NBA season postponement.
James Harden is solely focused on basketball at the moment, but others are focused on Harden’s face mask. No. 13 arrived in Orlando sporting a “Blue Lives Matter” face mask. Blue Lives Matter is generally viewed as a counter-movement to the Black Lives Matter movement which protests police brutality and racial oppression.
The Houston Rockets posted a picture of Harden sporting the Blue Lives Matter mask on Thursday evening. The photo sparked outrage from Rockets and NBA fans. But Harden has since made it clear the mask wasn’t worn to make a political statement. Instead, he wore it because it covered his entire beard.
James Harden: "It was just something that covered my whole beard. I thought it looked cool. That was it." Harden said he's in process of determining how he will voice his support for the Black Lives Matter while in NBA bubble, including whether he will have a message on jersey.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) July 17, 2020
“It was just something that covered my whole beard,” Harden explained. “I thought it looked cool. That was it.”
It’s clear that James Harden wasn’t trying to make a political statement. With a beard like his, there probably aren’t a wide selection of face masks that can get the job done.
Despite his explanation, many are still frustrated by James Harden’s face-mask choice. Some are arguing Harden should be more aware of the platform he has and how his decisions can influence change.
But Harden can now put all of this behind him as the season resumption fast approaches. The Houston Rockets resume the 2019-20 regular season on July 31 against the Dallas Mavericks.