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The Houston Rockets and the NBA are reviewing video of James Harden partying maskless at a strip club to determine if he violated the league’s COVID-19 protocols, putting the perennial All-Star’s availability for Houston’s season opener Wednesday night in question, sources told ESPN.
The video, which was published by Black Sports Online and has been circulating on social media, is purportedly from a Houston strip club’s Christmas party held this week. The Rockets and the league office are attempting to verify that it is indeed a recent video, which would confirm that Harden violated the league’s protocols.
The NBA’s COVID-19 protocols prohibit players from going to bars, lounges or clubs and from participating in social gatherings of more than 15 people.
According to the health and safety protocols, failure or refusal to comply could subject a player to disciplinary action by the NBA or his team, including a warning, fine and/or suspension, as well as being required to participate in an education or training session. Repeat offenders may be subject to enhanced discipline.
A suspension would cost Harden $284,517 per game, which is 1/145th of his salary.
Harden, who has requested to be traded, violated the league’s COVID-19 protocols during his brief holdout at the beginning of training camp when he attended rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party in Atlanta and frequented Las Vegas clubs. The league required Harden to have six consecutive days of negative coronavirus tests before clearing him to practice with the Rockets.
Sources told ESPN that Harden had COVID-19 during the summer before the NBA season restart, which is why he was late reporting to the league’s Walt Disney World bubble. Players who have recovered from the coronavirus are still required to follow the league’s health and safety protocols.
ESPN’s Bobby Marks contributed to this report.
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