The NBA hasn’t covered itself in glory the past few weeks. As part of the fallout from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet, the league has attempted to run damage control, knowing that China is a major source of revenue.
Morey tried to distance the Rockets from his tweet, James Harden apologized for Morey’s tweet and Adam Silver tried to make both sides happy, saying Morey has a right to free speech while also saying the NBA shouldn’t “adjudicate” different viewpoints.
The situation got even more awkward Thursday when the Rockets shut down a question from CNN reporter Christina Macfarlane about the issue. Macfarlane attempted to ask Harden and Russell Westbrook a question about whether they would be hesitant to speak out on any political issues after this whole fiasco. Rockets PR stepped in and told Macfarlane to ask “basketball questions only.”
Journalist gets quickly shut down when she asked James Harden, Russell Westbrook if they would refrain from speaking out on politics/social justice after China debacle... pic.twitter.com/VkXSWo0N0s— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 10, 2019
Macfarlane responds to that, saying, “It’s a legitimate question. This is an event that happened this week.” Macfarlane then asks Harden for an answer, but doesn’t get one. The camera cuts to both Harden and Westbrook awkwardly looking around while they wait for another question.
The NBA issued a statement on the matter, saying the “team representative inappropriately interjected” to stop the question. The league said that was “inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events.”
The question was both legitimate and potentially harmless. Macfarlane wasn’t even asking the players to comment specifically on China. The question was about whether the players would hesitate to speak out on issues moving forward. The NBA is viewed as a progressive league where players and coaches are allowed — and encouraged — to speak their minds on complex issues.
By not allowing the players to speak, the Rockets gave a definitive answer to Macfarlane’s question.
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