Rockets’ James Harden criticized for wearing Blue Lives Matter apparel

A face covering that he chose because it fit his beard got the baller in trouble with activists

james harden thin blue line black lives matter thegrio.com
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the first half of the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on February 29, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets looks on during the first half of the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden on February 29, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Looks like James Harden may be the latest celebrity getting the side-eye from social justice activists after he seemingly wore a mask showing support for the Blue Lives Matter movement.

READ MORE: Nick Cannon concerns fans with cryptic tweets after podcast scandal

According to Fox News, on Friday the Houston Rockets star responded to the backlash after he was pictured wearing a “Thin Blue Line” mask while arriving at the NBA bubble.

The NBA scoring leader confessed that he only chose the mask because he thought “it looked cool,” and had no clue that the slogan on it was a political statement meant to counter-protest Black Lives Matter and center support around police officers instead.

“It was just something that covered my whole beard. I thought it looked cool. That was it,” Harden told ESPN.

He then noted that ironically, he is actually in the process of figuring out a way to best support the Black Lives Matter movement while in the bubble and even considered having a social justice message written on his jersey. So he says he had no idea that his face covering unintentionally undermined those plans.

Following speculation that he had contracted COVID-19, along with teammate Russell Westbrook who confirmed he tested positive on social media, Harden opted not to travel with the rest of his team to Orlando last week.

On Thursday, the Rockets shared a picture confirming that he was back. Instead of fans celebrating that one of the league’s top players had rejoined his team, there were stunned reactions to him wearing a mask depicting a popular pro-police symbol.

While people like singer Trey Songz slammed the athlete for being a “certified clown” on social media, rapper Young Thug, a friend of Harden’s, defended him on Twitter speculating, “he don’t have internet so he obviously don’t know what’s right or wrong if he posted something that’s against US.”

READ MORE: WH press secretary says science shouldn’t stop schools from reopening

To the rapper’s point, despite the fact that he’s usually quiet on controversial topics, Harden told reporters Thursday that he supported the protests sparked by the death of George Floyd and believed they represented a “powerful” message.

“The way the city just like rallied, it was amazing. I think the world saw it,” he said. “The march and everything that we’re standing for is very powerful.”

Subscribe to theGrio’s Dear Culture podcast on Spotify, Apple and Stitcher.