After a short delay due to "family issues" all-NBA guard, James Harden arrived in Orlando for the NBA return to join the Houston Rockets, Thursday.
"The Beard's" arrival did not go unnoticed as he made his way into the Orlando Bubble donning a "Blue Lives Matter" mask.
Harden's choice of mask, however, became viral in social media and drew the ire of some netizens. Many called out Harden on wearing the mask thinking it represented his stance on the social issue which contradicts the central theme of the NBA bubble which supports the "Black Lives Matter" campaign. The NBA has previously announced that all basketball courts will be emblazoned with the phrase "Black Lives Matter," while players will be given an option to wear jerseys with social justice messages.
The Masked Beard!#WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/DJrp23M5TL — NBA (@NBA) July 17, 2020
Meanwhile, the mask that Harden wore upon his arrival was a symbol of the Blue Lives Matter campaign which contradicts the NBA bubble theme.
The Beard's Explanation
Due to the uproar brought by his mask, Harden was quick to defend himself saying that he was not aware of what the ask represented and that it was not his intention to wear it as a political statement, Yahoo! Sports reported.
The mask that Harden was wearing was called "The Thin Blue Line," which is a flag of the United States with one of the stripes in blue. The said mask represents support for the law enforcement which has been the target for the campaign against police brutality.
According to Harden, however, he simply chose the mask as protection for COVID-19 and because it covered his whole face including his signature beard.
Meanwhile, upon his arrival on Thursday, Harden immediately joined his team for practice at the NBA's Walt Disney World campus.
According to ESPN, Harden has also stated that he is already thinking of options on how he would be able to voice out his support for the "Black Lives Matter" movement during the restart of the season. He also added that he is also considering wearing a social justice message on his jersey.
On the other hand, when he was asked of his opinion of the police in regard to the campaign, Harden simply stated that there are people who do their job correctly while there are others who take advantage.
In addition, Harden said that he was proud of how Houston reacted to the death of George Floyd. Floyd, who grew up in Houston died in the hands of Minneapolis police. Harden added that seeing the people rally on the streets for the sole reason was very powerful. He said that it was amazing how people came together despite the tragic reason.
Regarding the issue of the mask that he wore, he reiterated that he did not mean anything by wearing the mask and simply wanted to cover his beard.
"I thought it looked cool. That was it," The Beard ended.