"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," the NBA said in a statement, courtesy The Athletic's Sam Amick.
"We've apologized to Ms. Macfarlane as this was inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events."
Following Houston's 118-111 win over the Toronto Raptors in Japan on Thursday, Macfarlane asked Harden whether the backlash from China in regards to Rockets GM Daryl Morey's since-deleted tweet - which supported Hong Kong protesters - would cause players to "feel differently" about speaking out on political and societal affairs.
Before Harden could respond, a team spokesperson told Macfarlane the media availability was for "basketball questions only."
Morey's initial tweet angered many in China, including the Chinese Basketball Association and other corporations that have since severed ties with the Rockets. During a practice Monday in China, Harden apologized to Chinese fans on behalf of his team's general manager, but tensions have persisted.
On Tuesday, NBA commissioner Adam Silver released a statement saying that he understands the different views held by China, but that he will not infringe on its members' free speech as the league "simply could not operate that way."