Houston Rockets player James Harden sparked criticism on social media recently while promoting wearing a mask. The team and the NBA both posted photos showing him wearing a neck gaiter pulled over his face, which featured a Thin Blue Line American flag. Harden later explained that he didn't know what the design meant; he just wore the mask because it covered his entire beard. Although the fans still expressed considerable disappointment in his decision.
When the photos surfaced on social media, a multitude of NBA fans responded strongly. Some called Harden a "boot-licker" while others said he is a "c—." Many fans and casual viewers alike defended Harden and said that he "had no idea" what the blue line meant. They just assumed that he liked the design. These fans were in the minority, however, as others continued to criticize the Houston Rockets player.
For the love of GOD tell me James Harden isn’t wearing a mask called “the blue patriot” pic.twitter.com/nSf1Vu4ig9— x - Dr. Wilue ⚡️🏀 (@Wilue_Blomie) July 17, 2020
I don’t feel sorry no more pic.twitter.com/9zYtPy2hmR— steelo grim (@itsmuavebro) July 17, 2020
Harden backs the glorified slave catchers?— N’Jadaka (@N_Jadaka_) July 17, 2020
At the end of the day, JH is a Black man; FYI young brotha, the police is not your friends, and they’ll remind you really fast, with their blue line mask on! Take it off and get on the right side of your heritage. Too rich too old too much around you to have not known!— Domain D (@domaindefense1) July 17, 2020
Forgot your hat pic.twitter.com/iK7bjRXV2f— TaReef KnockOut طَرِيف 👊🏾 (@TaReefKnockOut) July 17, 2020
You let these folks have you take a picture in the middle of a revolution when you know so many black males look up to you. I Blame You Houston Rockets somebody behind the scenes know what this meant you all know what this meant. You knew that this would be divisive. F*** y'all— Lanaisha Edwards (@LanaishaE) July 17, 2020
The American flag with a blue stripe originated in 2014 and has since been recognized as the symbol for “Back the Blue“, “Blue Lives Matter”, etc. The symbolism behind it is far from new— A (@AjCieslar) July 18, 2020
So James Harden wore a Blue Lives Matter flag around his face and he didn’t know what it was??? Come on.— Essence (@essamess_) July 18, 2020
please delete this. i really hope that mask ain’t what I think it is— 5 FOOT GIANT🇱🇷 (@TheBcctySensei) July 17, 2020
How has this been up for 20 hours? This is a slap in the face to nba fans. Take it down!— DelawareTrackXC (@DelawareTrackXC) July 17, 2020
@JHarden13 Lookin like Capt. Blue Lives...— TruthCuresALL (@all_cures) July 18, 2020
I just saw a pic of james harden wearing a blue lives matter mask goodnight— jay reyes (@jalyssareyes_) July 18, 2020
“Looks all right to me” pic.twitter.com/lRuSkFUZOX— King Mekka XIV 🇳🇬 (@youngmekkamek) July 17, 2020
Both bootlicking symbols. We do not condone— jorge (@TheGentleSenpai) July 18, 2020