By Alex Butler
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver answered “Christmas” when he was asked recently why Houston Rockets star James Harden wasn’t suspended for violating the league’s COVID-19 protocols, which led to a game being postponed.
Silver was queried about Harden on Thursday during an interview with ESPN. The league fined Harden $50,000 on Wednesday, the same day the Rockets’ first game of the season was postponed.
“The precedent is that discipline gets ratcheted up [due to COVID-19],” Silver said. “It’s Christmas and it was a first offense. In a way he got lucky. If the game had taken place on Wednesday as scheduled, and he were unavailable because of his own actions, he would have missed a game and a paycheck.
“A little bit of luck. We are just beginning these protocols and it seemed fair in the first instance. But, it’s Christmas.”
Videos and photos surfaced earlier this week that showed Harden at a club and in a room with more than 15 people and not wearing a mask. Harden attended the gathering on Monday, the league said.
Late Wednesday afternoon, the NBA announced that the Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder’s game scheduled for that night was postponed because the Rockets did not have eight players available.
The league said three Rockets players returned COVID-19 test results that were either positive or inconclusive. Four additional Rockets players were unavailable due to contact tracing protocol, in addition to Harden and another injured player.
The league on Thursday said Harden will need to isolate for four days before he can return to the team.
The Rockets are next scheduled to face the Portland Trail Blazers at 10 p.m. EST on Saturday in Portland.