NBA scoring chief James Harden stated he didn’t intend to make a political assertion by carrying a ‘Skinny Blue Line’ masks Thursday, claiming he was unaware of what the masks represented.
The Skinny Blue Line flag is a black-and-white US flag with a blue stripe changing one white stripe. Skinny Blue Line USA, the group that sells the flags, says the skinny blue line represents officers within the line of obligation and the black represents fallen officers.
Pictures of Harden carrying the masks that appeared on the Rockets’ and NBA’s official social media accounts prompted fierce on-line debate once they have been posted on Thursday evening with the caption “Masks Up”.
“Actually, I wasn’t attempting to make a political assertion,” Harden stated earlier than the Rockets’ apply Friday. “I actually wore it simply because it lined my complete face and my beard. It’s fairly easy.”
Harden practiced together with his group for the primary time in additional than 4 months Thursday, saying his arrival on the league’s restart bubble at Walt Disney World was delayed by household points.
The 30-year-old swingman got here to Disney earlier this week, glad his league-mandated quarantine necessities and bought cleared to take part.
“I’m comfortable I’m right here,” Harden stated. “It felt truly actually, actually good to be out right here with the blokes, getting after it, simply pushing our manner. Each single day goes to be a brand new problem for us.”
Harden has been understanding, however stated Thursday was his first time taking part in precise 5-on-5, contact-laden basketball in additional than a month.
“I pushed myself by way of it immediately,” Harden stated.
Harden’s arrival means Houston lastly has half of its beginning backcourt at Disney. On Monday, guard Russell Westbrook revealed that he tested positive for Covid-19.
It’s not identified when Westbrook can be able to arrive. However Harden wasted no time in impressing his teammates.
“He regarded good,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni stated. “He most likely was rusty for about 30 seconds. … starting.”
Rockets guard Ben McLeMore was extra succinct.
“Identical James. … Didn’t miss a beat,” McLeMore stated.
D’Antoni didn’t count on Harden to do a lot 5-on-5 work initially, figuring he would wish a while to construct up his wind. However Harden arrived absolutely prepared, in D’Antoni’s eyes, displaying that no matter routine he was following had paid off.
“James is wise,” D’Antoni stated. “He is aware of his physique. He is aware of what he must do. He’ll come over late at evening if he wants further taking pictures or if he wants further operating, he’ll do it. However he likes to play. He’s the final word skilled on what he must do to prepare. So, I belief him completely.”
Harden is a digital cinch to win his third consecutive scoring title. He’s averaging 34.four factors, properly forward of second-place Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards. Beal, who isn’t taking part within the restart due to an harm, completed the season averaging 30.5 factors.
The one manner Harden may fall beneath Beal’s common is that if he performed in all eight of Houston’s remaining video games and scored a complete of 11 factors or fewer. If Harden performed in seven of the eight video games and went fully scoreless in every, he would nonetheless end forward of Beal.
Harden would turn into the seventh participant in NBA historical past to win no less than three consecutive scoring crowns, becoming a member of George Mikan, Neil Johnston, Wilt Chamberlain, George Gervin, Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant.