Harden admits he attended event as NBA, Rockets reportedly investigate video

Houston Rockets guard James Harden (Nell Redmond/AP)

The Houston Rockets are reportedly working with the NBA to verify whether James Harden recently violated the league's COVID-19 protocols, according to ESPN's Tim MacMahon.

The investigation stems from a video that went viral on social media late Tuesday night. In the 10-second clip, Harden can be seen, mask-less, holding a suitcase at what appears to be a club. The video's caption says "I got him the new Dior luggage for x-mas because I love my best friend to death," suggesting the luggage Harden is shown holding is a recent gift. When the video was filmed has not been confirmed at this time.

If the league is able to verify that the video is from a recent date, it would be a violation of the NBA's health and safety guidelines and could put Harden's availability in jeopardy for the Rockets' home opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Following ESPN's reporting that the Rockets and NBA were investigating the video, Harden issued a response to the situation via his personal Instagram story.

"I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it's a problem," Harden wrote. "Everyday it's something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can't. The real always ends on top."

Though Harden's response appears to dispute the initial reporting surrounding the video that it was filmed at a strip club, it does not address the timeline of the video and its potential COVID-19 protocol ramifications.

Hours after reports of the investigation surfaced, several members of the Rockets were ruled out of the team's opener against the Thunder tonight due to COVID-19 contact tracing. According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Rockets' current contact tracing is not tied to Harden.

Prior to the season starting, Harden's arrival to training camp was delayed by his decision to breach COVID-19 protocols as well after he posted a picture on his personal Instagram that showed him attending rapper Lil Baby’s birthday party in Atlanta. Neither Harden nor Lil Baby were wearing masks in the photo.

Harden has been in the spotlight with rumours circulating that the he is looking to be traded out of Houston. The Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Denver Nuggets have reportedly had "exploratory talks" with the Rockets about the former MVP.

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