SHANGHAI, July 1 — Houston Rockets star James Harden is used to flying past defenders in the NBA, but he was swiftly blocked by a traffic officer in China as he rode a scooter in Shanghai.
Harden, 29, apologised after causing a social media storm following his weekend ride on one of China’s ubiquitous electric scooters.
Images circulating online showed Harden stopped by police on Saturday, and state media said it was for allegedly riding against traffic and in an area where scooters are forbidden.
A friend of his is seen on another scooter with a passenger on the back, which is illegal in Shanghai for certain types of non-motor vehicles.
“I would like to apologize for violating traffic rules during my scooter ride today,” Harden wrote in English and Chinese on the Twitter-like Weibo platform on Saturday night, adding that he asked his staff to accept the penalty, which he did not specify.
“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,” Harden wrote on his Weibo account, which has close to 1.6 million followers.
The Shanghai police responded to Harden’s apology yesterday, quipping that a whistle can be used for the rules of the game as well as the road.
“Nothing can be accomplished without norms or standards. Hope you can play better and better in your future basketball matches and everyone will be safe on the road,” the police wrote on Weibo.
Shanghai has cranked up its traffic law enforcement against non-motor vehicles and pedestrians since April.
Some fans voiced support for Harden’s down-to-earth apology, while others said celebrities should not have special treatment.
“The only man who can single-handedly defend Harden has appeared,” a fan commented on Weibo.
The NBA is hugely popular in China, which will host the basketball World Cup starting August 31. The Rockets are famous in China for being the team where retired Chinese centre Yao Ming played. — AFP