Houston Rockets’ James Harden is speaking out after a picture of him wearing what appears to be a Blue Lives Matter mask sparked outrage online.
The photo of Harden was posted by the Houston Rockets official Twitter account with the caption “Mask Up.”
According to ESPN, Harden was unaware of the symbolic meaning behind the “thin blue line.”
The black and white United States flag with one blue stripe is associated with the Blue Lives Matter social movement to show support for law enforcement.
Blue Lives Matter is viewed as a countermovement by many who are a part of the Black Lives Matter Global Network which protests against police brutality inflicted on Black people.
Before the Rockets’ practice Friday, Harden explained he was not intending to make a political statement.
“Honestly, I wasn’t trying to make a political statement,” Harden said according to ESPN. “I honestly wore it just because it covered my whole face and my beard. It’s pretty simple.”