The NBA’s latest shameful kowtowing to Communist China was on full display during a Thursday press conference as CNN reporter Christina Macfarlane was shut down when she asked star players James Harden and Russell Westbrook about potential Chinese censorship in the league.
Instead of allowing the players to answer, Macfarlane was chided and a representative from the team took away her mic.
“The NBA has always been a league that prides itself on allowing its players and 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’d both feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future,” asked Macfarlane.
“Um, excuse me, we’re taking basketball questions only,” Macfarlane is heard being told by a team representative.
“It’s a legitimate question. This is an event that’s happened this week during the NBA,” the journalist pushes back, noting that “this particular question has not been answered.”
Macfarlane’s mic is snatched away from her and the question remains unaddressed.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook were asked if they would “feel differently” about speaking on political and societal affairs because of the events with the NBA/China.
A spokesperson interrupted and informed the reporter that the players would answer basketball questions only. pic.twitter.com/zMe8uWz2hY
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) October 10, 2019
Later in the day, a spokesperson for the league released a statement apologizing for the incident, reported The Washington Examiner.
“During today’s Houston Rockets media availability, a team representative inappropriately interjected to prevent CNN’s Christina Macfarlane from receiving an answer to her question. We’ve apologized to Ms. Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media event,” the statement said.
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) October 10, 2019
On Tuesday, a husband and wife holding “Free Hong Kong” signs at a preseason NBA game in Philadelphia were kicked out of the stadium.
Sam Wachs and his wife had their pro-Hong Kong signs confiscated by NBA employees and were escorted out of the Wells Fargo Center arena after Mr. Wachs shouted “Free Hong Kong,” a message in support of the ongoing pro-democracy demonstrations.
these are the signs that led to two fans being kicked out of Tuesday’s 76ers vs. Guangzhou Loong Lions game *in Philadelphia* pic.twitter.com/xzQxhNyqIy
— David Paulk 波大卫 (@davidpaulk) October 9, 2019
“There’s no foul language, no politics.’ I asked ‘Why not?’ They said, ‘Don’t give me a hard time,’” Mr. Wachs told Action News, adding, “I think it’s shameful, harsh reaction.”
The following night, folks wearing “Free Hong Kong” T-shirts at the Washington Wizards—Guangzhou Long Lions game in Capitol Arena in Washington D.C. were confronted by NBA representatives for their signs challenging the Chinese government. Both their “Free Hong Kong” and “Google Uyghurs” signs were confiscated.
— Jon Schweppe (@JonSchweppe) October 9, 2019
The NBA first took on serious heat for cowering to Communist China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey upset Chinese officials by expressing support for the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong.
According to The Ringer, the “Chinese Basketball Association, and various Chinese businesses quickly denounced Morey and moved to sever ties with the Rockets. As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.”
“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass said in a statement released Sunday. “While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”
Morey also deleted the tweet and offered an apology on social media.
“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event,” he said. “I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”