Another day, more apparent fallout in the aftermath of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet in apparent support of the Hong Kong protesters. The post, which was followed by swift backlash from the Chinese government and Chinese businesses against the NBA, is still creating controversy around the league.
On Thursday, after the Rockets defeated the Toronto Raptors 118-111 in a pre-season contest in Tokyo, Houston stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook were speaking at a press conference when CNN reporter Christina Macfarlane asked a question regarding the ongoing controversy.
“The NBA has always been a league that prides on its players and its coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs,” Macfarlane began. “I just wonder, after the events of this week and the fallout we’ve seen, whether you both feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future?”
Upon making this inquiry to the two former MVPs, an NBA representative could then be heard, essentially, shutting Macfarlane’s question down.
“Excuse me, we’re taking basketball questions only,” the representative said.
Macfarlane looked surprised that her question was being denied, saying, “It’s a legitimate question, this is an event that happened this week in the NBA.”
Still, there was no answer given and all Macfarlane could do was hand over the microphone while Harden and Westbrook looked on awkwardly.
In response to this incident, the NBA issued a statement saying the “representative inappropriately interjected to prevent CNN’s Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question.”
Earlier this week, Morey posted the symbol of “Stand With Hong Kong,” an activist group that urges foreign intervention in the disputes.
On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said, “[the league] will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on [the issue of the Hong Kong protests].”
Also, on Tuesday evening, in a pre-season game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the visiting Guangzhou Loong Lion (a Chinese Basketball Association team), there was a report that a local fan was booted from the game for showing support for Hong Kong.
A similar story was heard from Wednesday night’s game between the Washington Wizards and the Loong Lions in D.C. with a fan’s “Free Hong Kong” sign getting confiscated by building security.
The NBA has a lot of financial stake within China, with speculation that the salary-cap figure for the 2020-21 NBA season could be impacted due to this apparent rift between the Chinese government and the NBA.