SHANGHAI, China – Houston Rockets star James Harden is used to flying past defenders in the NBA, but he was swiftly blocked by a traffic officer in China as he rode a scooter in Shanghai.
Harden apologized after causing a social media storm following his weekend ride on one of China's ubiquitous electric scooters.
Images circulating online showed Harden stopped by police on Saturday, June 29, and state media said it was for allegedly riding against traffic and in an area where scooters are forbidden.
James Harden pulled over in China while traveling on an electric bike. @YuFu_tencent pic.twitter.com/7Ga8jZssrJ — Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) June 29, 2019
A friend of his is seen on another scooter with a passenger on the back, which is illegal in Shanghai for certain types of non-motor vehicles.
"I would like to apologize for violating traffic rules during my scooter ride today," Harden wrote in English and Chinese on the Twitter-like Weibo platform on, adding that he asked his staff to accept the penalty, which he did not specify.
"Not a good example obviously but I was just trying to enjoy the city as much as possible. Thank you for your understanding and I'll make sure to abide by the rules next time here," he added on Weibo, where he has close to 1.6 million followers.
The Shanghai police responded to Harden's apology on Sunday, quipping that a whistle can be used for the rules of the game as well as the road.
"Nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards. Hope you can play better and better in your future basketball matches and everyone will be safe on the road," the police wrote on Weibo.
Shanghai has cranked up its traffic law enforcement against non-motor vehicles and pedestrians since April.
Some fans voiced support for Harden's down-to-earth apology, while others said celebrities should not have special treatment.
"The only man who can single-handedly defend Harden has appeared," a fan commented on Weibo.
The NBA is hugely popular in China, which will host the FIBA World Cup starting August 31.
Also, the Rockets are famous in China for being the team retired Chinese center Yao Ming spent his entire NBA career with. – Rappler.com