by Alex Poletti
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
At the heart of the NBA All-Star weekend is charity. While Teams Giannis and Lebron fought valiantly to win the ceremonial affair, the true victors were Chicago Scholars and After School Matters, two Chicago-based charities that received $400,000 and $100,000, respectively. All-Star starter James Harden, not to be outdone by the NBA, made his own charitable contributions, giving out $300,000 to several Chicago strip clubs after the game.
“They way I see it, All-Star weekend is all about giving,” Harden, who started his fourth consecutive All-Star game on Sunday, explains. “That night, I gave out a lot of cash, and the dancers gave me a lot of lap dances. Definitely a lot of giving going on.”
This year featured a new All-Star game format in honor of Kobe Bryant, who tragically passed away in January. Whichever team scored more points in any given quarter earned $100,000 for the team captain’s selected charity. The fourth quarter was untimed, with the teams playing for 24 extra points, a nod to Bryant’s jersey.
While the NBA changed its ways, Harden kept it traditional, blowing his money on strip joints in classic James Harden fashion.
“With so much experimentation going on this weekend, I wanted to keep some things consistent,” Harden says. “That doesn’t mean I wasn’t honoring Kobe, though. I think I got dances from 24 strippers or so, so that’s a tribute to him.”
Harden has made a name for himself in the past as a frequenter of gentlemen’s clubs, making a habit of attending strip clubs before many away games. In fact, NBA fans, led by reddit user Ryan Sullivan, have found statistical evidence that Harden performs worse on the court when playing in towns with high-quality strip clubs. It should be noted that Chicago, the site of the All-Star game, ranked as the second best NBA strip-club city.
“Honestly, I have a new-found respect for Harden,” basketball fan Ronald Smith says. “I never realized he had so much in common with the everyman: seeing a guy on the court who goes to strip clubs during out-of-town work trips when he’s away from the family is the kind of representation I’ve been looking for.”
The Second String reached out to the 2018 MVP and asked him how he felt about his contributions to charity.
“Oh yeah, I think Charity was dancing last night,” Harden says. “Or maybe it was Destiny. Honestly, a lot of that night was kind of hazy.”