NBA issues statement after Rockets shut down reporter’s China question
The controversy involving the NBA and China reached new heights Thursday when a Houston Rockets PR staffer shut down a reporter after she asked Russell Westbrook and James Harden about the ongoing situation. This led the league to later issued an apology over the incident via statement.
CNN reporter Christina Macfarlane was attempting to ask the Rockets stars about their thoughts on the dispute between the NBA and China and whether it will impact their willingness to speak out on such issues.
The NBA encourages players to speak their minds, they said … pic.twitter.com/rcs3caQCzP— Benjamin Hoffman (@BenHoffmanNYT) October 10, 2019
Macfarlane was interrupted by a Rockets PR staffer, and their exchange went as follows, per CNN.
Macfarlane: 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. 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?
Rockets’ PR: Excuse me, we are taking basketball questions only.
Macfarlane: It’s a legitimate question.
Rockets’ PR: It’s not.
Macfarlane: This is an event that’s happened this week during the NBA.
Rockets’ PR: It’s already been answered.
Macfarlane: This is a question that’s not been answered. James?
This latest development has left the NBA tasked with putting out yet another fire due to the seemingly inescapable quagmire in which the league finds itself on the China front. In an attempt to do so, the league issued a statement in which an apology was issued to Macfarlane.
“A team representative inappropriately interjected to prevent CNN’s Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question,” said the statement, per Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press. “We’ve apologized to Ms. Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events.”
The NBA is presently in full crisis mode given how the controversy is casting a shadow over the entire league. The fact that the China storyline has shown no signs of slowing down has to be of great concern to the league.