Rockets superstar James Harden was fined $50,000 for violating protocols aimed at preventing the spread of coronavirus on Wednesday, December 23.
This violation left him ineligible for the team’s scheduled season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, which was postponed because the Rockets didn’t have the required 8 players available.
“Houston Rockets guard James Harden has been fined $50,000 for violating the league’s Health and Safety Protocols, which among other things prohibit attending indoor social gatherings of 15 or more people or entering bars, lounges, clubs or similar establishments,” NBA President of League Operations Byron Spruell said in a statement about two hours after the game was postponed.
“Harden violated these rules when he attended a private indoor party on Monday, December 21.”
ESPN reported Wednesday that the league was investigating Harden for a possible violation of protocols after video surfaced on social media that apparently showed him at a club without wearing a mask.
The Rockets star issued a statement on Instagram, denying the video showed him at a strip club but acknowledging he was at an event hosted by a friend.
The Rockets did not meet the eight-player requirement as 3 players had returned positive or inconclusive coronavirus tests.
Four other Rockets players had also been quarantined due to contact tracing measures.
The Rockets had noted in their official injury report that rookie Kenyon Martin Jr. was in “self-isolation” after a coronavirus test.
ESPN and The Athletic website had reported that Martin was among a group of players, including John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, who gathered on Tuesday night at a player’s apartment to receive haircuts.
The league said all other Rockets players were tested again on Wednesday and returned negative results.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who shepherded the league through its return from last season’s coronavirus hiatus in a quarantine bubble in Orlando, Florida, had said Tuesday that with teams playing in their home arenas he “wouldn’t be surprised” to see postponements related to COVID-19.
That’s why the league released a schedule only for the first half of the season, with the second half slate to be filled in later.
“When you’re playing outside a bubble it’s almost impossible to avoid this virus,” Silver said. – Rappler.com
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