Moses Malone Jr. was beaten and robbed of $50,000 worth of jewelry outside of a strip club last year, he said Monday, because he wrote a Facebook post critical of Houston Rockets superstar James Harden.
Malone, 38, testified during the first day of the assault trial of Darian Blount, the security manager at the west Houston strip club, V Live. Blount is charged with assault, accused of coordinating the attack on Malone as he arrived. Harden was already inside the club.
“I called him ‘Hollywood Harden’” Malone testified Monday. “‘Hollywood’ for being a prima donna, for forgetting where he came from.”
Prosecutors argued in opening statements that Blount arranged the assault because of the Facebook post.
“This case is about the defendant having somebody’s back,” prosecutor Lauren Reeder told jurors. She said Blount was doling out “what Malone had coming” for criticizing Harden.
Blount’s defense lawyer said Malone got the wrong man when he pointed the finger at Blount.
“This is a story about a man caught in the middle,” Clint Davidson told jurors.
Jurors are expected to hear that Blount was there during the altercation, but said he broke up the fight.
Malone is the son of former Houston Rockets guard Moses Malone, a three-time MVP during his NBA career. He died in September 2015.
In court Monday, Malone testified he often saw Harden at strip clubs around town, but the two were not close. Malone, who runs a sports memorabilia brokerage company, said he was closer to Harden’s friends.
On June 23, Malone wrote his post but took it down after an a hour because Harden’s friends asked him to. He was criticizing Harden for charging $250 a student for a two-day basketball camp instead of doing a free camp in a disadvantaged area.
Two days later, about 2:30 a.m. on June 25, 2016, Malone arrived at the strip club on Richmond. Several people at the club had texted him to come, which Malone said he now believes was a set-up. V Live, was a club that operated between 2 a.m. to 6 a.m.
A police officer who testified Monday said Harden was a frequent visitor of the club. Stars like Rhianna, Drake and Wiz Khalifa have been spotted there.
Before he could walk in, investigators said, a crowd armed with pistols, met him in front of the club allegedly led by Blount.
Several people in the crowd allegedly began beating Malone to the ground. His cell phone and jewelry valued at $50,000, including diamond earrings, were taken during the beating.
He later identified Blount and three other men who were all arrested on a felony charge of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. The cases against Kavon Boutte, 27, and Oscar Wattell, 26, are pending.
Charges were dismissed against Deavon Lewis, 21, after Harris County grand jury ruled there was not enough evidence to go forward.
Earlier this year, Malone filed a lawsuit against Harden alleging he paid Blount $20,000 to coordinate the fight. He is seeking more than a million dollars in damages as a result of the attack.
The trial, in state District Judge Brad Hart’s court, is expected to last through the week.