The Houston Rockets and NBA are looking into a video circulating on social media showing James Harden at a strip club, per a report by ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. If the video is found to be recent, it would be a violation of the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols and could mean Harden does not play in the Rockets’ season opener on Wednesday night.
Source: Rockets are working with NBA office to review video of James Harden at a strip club. If the video circulating on social media is verified to be recent, it is a violation of league's COVID protocols, which would put Harden's availability for tonight's opener in jeopardy.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) December 23, 2020
The video shows Harden holding a shiny new piece of luggage while maskless. Others in the video are not wearing a mask, and the caption on what’s likely an Instagram Story posted by a friend says the luggage is a Christmas gift.
Harden explains alleged strip club situation
“One thing after another. I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it’s a problem.
“Every day it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t. The real always end on top.”
He deleted it within an hour of posting it. Around the same time, reports came out that a group of Rockets players could miss the season opener due to contact tracing. It is reportedly separate from Harden’s situation.
Harden potentially violates COVID-19 guidelines again
The NBA sent out lengthy guidelines for the 2020-21 season because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unlike the conclusion of the previous season, this one will not take place in a bubble and teams are flying in and out of cities to play. League protocol stipulates specifically that players cannot go to bars, lounges or clubs and cannot attend live entertainment or sporting events. They also cannot be at public gyms, spas or pools and generally can’t participate in social gatherings that have more than 15 people.
Violations can result in disciplinary action that includes a warning, fine and/or a suspension.
As if 2020 hasn’t been bonkers enough, it’s ending with Harden essentially finding his own way out of town by continuously bucking COVID-19 protocols. He has asked to play for a contender, but the Rockets have not been able to make a deal.
A disgruntled James Harden effectively holding out of the start of the season through strip club patronage in the midst of a raging pandemic would have seemed completely unfathomable (and very confusing) just one year ago. 2020 has had it all.
— Derek Bodner (@DerekBodnerNBA) December 23, 2020
Harden already missed the Rockets’ first practice of training camp due to COVID-19 protocols. He was spotted on social media attending rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party while players were supposed to be quarantining at their homes. Again, no masks were in use in the video.
Rocky month for Harden, Rockets situation
The Harden-Rockets situation has been rocky for a while, but tensions reportedly boiled over earlier this week. Harden, 31, has reportedly gotten into confrontations in practice that include throwing a basketball at a teammate.
That incident occurred Monday, though the ball reportedly didn’t strike rookie Jae’Sean Tate after their heated exchange. The Athletic’s Shams Charania first reported the altercation and noted it was particularly interesting because the action isn’t in Harden’s standard personality traits.
Harden, however, is known by those in the organization as a laid-back and calm personality — especially as superstars go — and some around the franchise are viewing this as rising to an uncharacteristic level of frustration given his ongoing situation.
The Rockets are scheduled to open the season against the Oklahoma City Thunder at home on Wednesday night. The NBA began its new season Tuesday.
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