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VIDEO: Spokesperson Shuts Down Politics Question During Russell Westbrook-James Harden Presser

Houston's guard Russel Westbrook (R) answers questions beside James Harden (L) during a press conference after the NBA Japan Games 2019 pre-season basketball match between Houston Rockets and Toronto Raptors in Saitama, northern suburb of Tokyo on October 10, 2019. (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA / AFP) (Photo by TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP via Getty Images)
TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/Getty Images

No matter where you stand on the whole NBA-in-China fiasco, one thing we should all know as a common fact is the league is suffering from a series of self-inflicted blows. With the public relations wheel spinning a bit out of control right now, all parties on foreign soil would like nothing more than questions about motion offense or offensive rebounding or, really, anything basketball-related.

Everything else? Well, you see, the answer isn't quite so simple.

Those tasked with making sure players and coaches don't say something that may exacerbate the controversies are seizing on every opportunity to steer things into safe waters.

For instance, here's what happened when Russell Westbrook and James Harder were asked about their willingness to continue to speak out on social issues in the wake of all the recent messiness.

Oh yeah. Things are going great.

Playing defense on such questions is understandable, but obviously bad. One has to wonder how long this strategy will remain viable. Certainly returning to America will mean removing the protective plastic shell they're trying to keep players under. And it's silly to think this issue is going to magically resolve itself.

For the Rockets, this has a real chance to become a lingering sideshow. The NBA's equivalent to the Colin Kaepernick scent that was omnipresent in the air around the NFL a few years ago. So who comes up with an answer, and who backs it up with action, to get us to a point where the page is turned?

There doesn't seem to be a clear path. The above one is clearly untenable and short-sighted.