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Reporter is shut down when she tries to ask James Harden and Russell Westbrook about China

For The Win logo For The Win 4 days ago Nate Scott

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The Rockets' James Harden and Russell Westbrook gave a press conference on Thursday. Christina Macfarlane, a journalist from CNN, was in attendance, and started to ask a question about the damage done in the past week to the NBA's relationship with China.

For a brief recap: Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sent out a seemingly innocuous tweet sending support to pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, which was swiftly met with fury by the Chinese government. Morey had to apologize, but he was not punished by the league, so Chinese state-run TV has now pulled Rockets games, and canceled events.

Before Macfarlane could finish her question, however, an unidentified spokesperson offstage spoke out, saying that Harden and Westbrook would only be answering basketball questions.

This would seem to fly in the face of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's statement this week, which explicitly said the league would not be getting in the business of censoring its players.

USA TODAY Sports' Jeff Zillgitt reported that the spokesperson who told Macfarlane she couldn't ask the question was not a spokesperson from the NBA league office, however. So it's unclear who was trying to get these two players to keep quiet.

It should also be said: Harden and Westbrook weren't the ones who shut this down. This came from offstage. I don't think anyone would have blamed them if they said "this is a complex, ongoing issue and we're not going to comment on it," but they never even got that opportunity. Someone else told them to stay quiet.

We'll update if we learn which spokesperson shut down the question.

Update: Per an NBA spokesperson, the question as shut down by a Houston Rockets representative.

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