As the NBA prepares to restart activities in Orlando, the league is attempting to make statements on the state of race relations in America. On Thursday night, James Harden and the Houston Rockets made a perplexing one on social media.
In what was likely a COVID-19 prevention ad, the Rockets’ official Twitter account posted a picture of their star player wearing a Thin Blue Line mask, captioned “Mask Up.”
The Thin Blue Lind brand is largely popular with law enforcement officers, and diametrically opposed to the Black Lives Matter movement. In a 2017 USA Today report, the brand was described as standing for “law enforcement’s separation of order from chaos, or as Oxford Dictionaries describes, a reference to police “in the context of maintaining order during unrest.”
Many Twitter users expressed their confusion and disappointment. Celebrities close to Harden, like Meek Mill and Young Thug, assured their followers that the mask choice wasn’t representative of Harden’s beliefs.
“Y’all know damn well Jh don’t know what that mask meant because I don’t!” Meek tweeted. “He donate millions in real life to our people! End of story.”
“Just so u know James harden is my brada,” Young Thug wrote. “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.”
Trey Songz felt much differently. “This certified clown shit,” he wrote, quoting the tweet. “I’ll say it for everybody who scared to. FOH.”
Harden later spoke with reporters, explaining that he wore the mask for no political reason. “It covered my whole beard,” he said. I thought it looked cool, that was it.”
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