Fans are seen during the fourth quarter of a game between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs at the Toyota Center on December 17, 2020 in Houston, Texas. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images/AFP

Covid-19 precautions forced the first postponement of the NBA season on just the second day of action Wednesday as the Houston Rockets’ home game against Oklahoma City was called off.

The league said three Rockets players had returned coronavirus tests that were either positive or inconclusive.

Four other Rockets players had also been quarantined due to contact tracing measures and star James Harden was ruled out after a protocol violation. With one injured player as well, the Rockets did not have the required eight players available for the game.

“The National Basketball Association game scheduled for tonight between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center has been postponed in accordance with the league’s Health and Safety Protocols,” the NBA said in a statement.

The postponement was the last thing the league was hoping for on the second day of the season when a full slate of 13 games were scheduled.

ESPN reported Wednesday that the league were investigating Harden for a possible violation of protocols after video surfaced on social media that apparently showed him at a club without wearing a mask.

Harden — who was a late arrival at training camp and has been at the center of reports that he has demanded a trade — issued a statement on Instagram, denying the video shows him at a strip club but acknowledging he was at an event.

“One thing after another,” Harden wrote. “I went to show love to my homegirl at her event (not a strip club) because she is becoming a boss and putting her people in position of success and now it’s a problem.

“Everyday it’s something different. No matter how many times people try to drag my name under you can’t.”

Apparently, however, the league’s investigation found he had violated rules prohibiting players from attending gatherings of more than 15 people.

The Rockets had noted in their official injury report that rookie Kenyon Martin Jr. was in “self-isolation” after a coronavirus test.

ESPN and The Athletic website had reported that Martin was among a group of players gathered on Tuesday night at a player’s apartment to receive haircuts and that point guard John Wall and center DeMarcus Cousins could be ruled out because of contract tracing protocols.

The Rockets had already recorded another positive coronavirus test, that of backup guard Ben McLemore.

“Three Houston Rockets players have returned tests that were either positive or inconclusive for coronavirus under the NBA’s testing program,” the league said in a statement.

“Following the contact tracing protocol, four other players are quarantined at this time. Additionally, James Harden is unavailable due to a violation of the Health and Safety Protocols.

“Houston has one additional player who is unavailable due to injury. As such, the Rockets do not have the league-required eight available players to proceed with tonight’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.”

The league said all other Rockets players were tested again on Wednesday and returned negative results.

Source: Manila Bulletin (