The Houston Rockets were doing a media availability in Tokyo after a game there, when a CNN sports reporter, Christina Macfarlane, dared to raise some questions related to the China controversy.
First, she queried Coach Mike D’Antoni, who managed to evade the question. He answered as some other coaches have that “it’s a tough question” and said he was just a coach, that he left it up to Adam Silver, the NBA Commissioner, to speak about NBA policy.
Coach D’Antoni was asked about the situation with the NBA and China. Here is the full exchange.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) October 10, 2019
Later, Macfarlane tried to ask a similar question to players James Harden and Russell Westbrook.
“The NBA has always been a league that prides itself on its players and its coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs,” McFarlane said. “I just wonder after the events of this week and the fallout that we’ve seen, if you would both feel differently about speaking out that way in the future?
Macfarlane was then stopped by a team media officer and told they were only taking basketball questions. They took her mic from her, as she protested, “It’s a legitimate question.”
Harden and Westbrook both then refused to answer, obviously knowing better than to respond.
NBA really covering themselves in glory and they just keep compounding it.
The NBA later apologized for shutting her down and taking her mic.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) October 10, 2019
“During today’s Houston Rockets media availability, a team representative interjected to prevent CNN’s Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question. We apologized to Ms. Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events.”
The NBA has been under the gun for shutting down speech from coaches and ejecting fans who were supportive of Hong Kong protesters from games or taking their signs.
Meanwhile eleven of the NBA’s Chinese partners have still suspended their relationships with them, according to the Daily Caller.