Last night, the NBA and Houston Rockets Twitter accounts both posted photos of James Harden, the star Rockets point guard and Lil B curse victim, wearing a very suspect facemask. Harden’s bandana appeared to show the thin blue line flag, the symbol frequently used by militaristic police forces. At a moment of widespread anger against police racism and violence, Harden’s choice to wear the mask seemed tone-deaf at best and actively villainous at worst.
Of course, there’s a strong possibility that Harden had no idea what he was implying with that mask, that he just thought it was some shit that looked cool. Stuff like this happens all the time. A whole lot of people are mad about that photo, and Harden hasn’t yet addressed it. But Atlanta rap star Young Thug came to Harden’s defense on Twitter, arguing that Harden didn’t know what he was doing because “he don’t have internet.”
James Harden definitely has internet! The people in the NBA bubble in Orlando have access to the internet; this is how we were able to witness the delightful spectacle of the DJ party where only Dwight Howard showed up. Harden might not be paying attention to the internet, but that’s not the same thing.
UPDATE: Harden tells ESPN’s Tim McMahon he wasn’t aware his mask was a political statement and he wasn’t aware of its pro-police associations: “It was just something that covered my whole beard. I thought it looked cool. That was it.” He did not comment on whether he has access to the internet.