James Harden issued an apology Saturday night after photos circulated on Chinese social media of the bearded baller being pulled over by Shanghai traffic police.
“I would like to apologize for violating traffic rules during my scooter ride today,” the Houston Rockets guard wrote on his Weibo microblog account. “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.”
Though neither Harden nor the Shanghai police have explained the nature of the traffic violation, photos of the incident posted on Weibo show members of Harden’s entourage riding tandem, which is prohibited in China, and people who claimed to have witnessed the stop said the group had been driving against the flow of traffic.
Many Chinese netizens have expressed bemusement over the 1.96-meter-tall player’s chosen mode of transportation. “Riding a small motorbike and carrying a small backpack, that’s super cute,” one Weibo user commented below the photos. “The one skill foreigners need to learn in China is how to ride an electric scooter,” wrote another netizen under the same post.
Meanwhile, others online have joked that a Chinese police officer is apparently the only person capable of stopping Harden, who was named MVP of the 2017–2018 NBA season and averaged a league-leading 36.1 points per game last year.
“Harden is a legendary figure who has experienced ups and downs in his career! Kawhi (Leonard) couldn’t stop him, (Kevin) Durant couldn’t stop him, Paul George couldn’t stop him, (Rudy) Gobert couldn’t stop him,” read one upvoted comment, referring to several of the NBA’s elite defenders. “But the Shanghai traffic police stopped him! They stopped him and made him obey! The Shanghai traffic police are the best in the world at stopping Harden!”
Harden and his even-larger teammate, Swiss center Clint Capela, had been riding electric scooters to an Adidas event at Shanghai Stadium on Saturday afternoon, according to Sixth Tone’s sister publication, The Paper. Harden has visited China several times in recent years for promotional tours with his shoe sponsor. Prior to arriving in Shanghai for this year’s tour, he had stopped in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Following Harden’s apology, the Shanghai police posted Sunday on Weibo to remind motorists to drive safely and to wish Harden luck in the upcoming NBA season. “Blowing the whistle can both uphold the rules of competition and maintain road safety. There’s an old saying in China: Without rules, nothing can be done,” read the post, concluding with a heart emoji.
Editor: David Paulk.
(Header image: NBA superstar James Harden is stopped for a traffic violation in Shanghai, June 29, 2019. @聚焦趣闻 on Weibo)