James Harden joining the Houston Rockets later than expected led to some media outlets trying to get ahead of the story without any validating whatsoever.
When the Houston Rockets traveled to the Orlando bubble without its two superstars, it certainly raised some suspicions. Many on social media speculated an obvious explanation: that Russell Westbrook and James Harden, or perhaps both, had contracted COVID-19 at some point.
While we also did our share of investigating, we made sure to make it known that it was all based on speculation based on the situation and not from any reports we heard. As we all know, Russell Westbrook later revealed he had tested positive for the coronavirus while James Harden remained silent on his absence.
Unfortunately, the news from Westbrook prompted a few different basketball Twitter accounts to tweet out that James Harden had also tested positive for COVID-19 “per sources.” I won’t name specific accounts, but a simple Twitter search for “Harden tests positive” will bring up more than a handful.
When pressed on sources, most of the “news-breaking” accounts would either not respond or have an answer that wasn’t legitimate. As Harden made his triumphant arrival to Orlando on Thursday, he made it known that his delayed arrival had to do with family:
James Harden said his late arrival was due to "family issues".
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) July 16, 2020
While speculation is a huge part of the job for everyone in sports media, there’s a difference between speculating and reporting. Like most people with some experience in the field, I tend to wait for an official report from guys like Shams Charania or Adrian Wojnarowski when it comes to breaking NBA news.
It’s always good to be the first with breaking news, but gambling on a story to be true in the hopes of taking credit after the fact just isn’t a smart option — especially when it deals with private matters like health issues.
Luckily for the Houston Rockets, James Harden seemed to be picking back up right where he left off when it came to five-on-five drills on Thursday.
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Whatever the reasons for Harden’s delay, his presence for Houston will make all the difference as the Rockets look to prepare for their first scrimmage game in just one week.