So...did James Harden pay thugs to beat up Moses Malone, Jr?

Phil Mushnick sums up the entire James Harden mess.

James Harden, NBA superstar of the Rockets, as of last week stands accused, as per a lawsuit filed by a reputable law firm, of ordering and financing “a hit” on the son of ex-NBA superstar Moses Malone.

With the story based in Houston, the story, thus far, goes like this:

Moses Malone Jr., on Facebook, last June put the knock on Harden for charging $249 to attend his basketball camp — a fee, Malone claimed, that eliminated poor, inner-city kids.

Harden, the story continues, was insulted by that charge.

Two days after Malone’s Facebook posting, he was in or just outside a now-shuttered Houston strip club at 2 a.m. when he was beaten and robbed by four men, at least one armed, who referenced that Facebook posting during the alleged assault.

The four, including club bouncer Darian Blount, were arrested, charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon.

Malone’s lawsuit claims Harden was in the club at the time of the attack — an attack ordered by Harden with the promise of $20,000 to Blount.

Speaking to ESPN, George Farah, Malone’s attorney, said, “There were text messages between Moses and some of James Harden’s friends. … We have a good trail of evidence that leads to Harden’s involvement in this.”

Harden’s attorney is Rusty Hardin. He is the country-slick lawyer whose bright idea it was to escort Roger Clemens to the offices of selected Congressmen, providing them with autographed photos, prior to Clemens testifying before those particular politicians in a Congressional committee hearing on illegal drug use in MLB, specifically by Clemens.

Hardin dismissed the suit against Harden as a mere nuisance, a transparent attempt to grab a celebrity’s money. But that may be standard, wishful lawyering.

Clearly, something arrest-ugly went down. The first-glance preposterous nevertheless seems — seems — to point to a fire that started the smoke, especially given that 2 a.m. in a strip club is not when they serve toast points and tea.

What happens next?

What and who inspired Blount and three others charged with beating and robbing Malone to conduct their alleged attack? Plea bargains might reveal much.

And if this civil case is heard, nothing short of a not-guilty judgment allows Harden his full innocence in the public eye. If a preemptive financial settlement with Malone is reached, that may be interrupted by some as a tacit admission that Harden had something to do with the beating, robbery and subsequent arrests.

What would the NBA next do?

And if Harden testifies in a civil case, which he probably would be compelled to do, his testimony potentially could be admissible in a criminal case if an indictment follows, though Harden, as the accused, would not be compelled to testify.

And if convicted but not sentenced to incarceration, how would the NBA handle that?

My sense of smell tells me that this is no one-and-done, in-other-sports-news story. This could be the start of something big. So much smoke.

Craig Carton got to the story today and, apparently, Barker Esiason has never heard of folks like, say, Aaron Hernandez.



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