Report: Lakers vs. Nets Preseason Game in China Expected to Be Played as Planned

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2019

SAN DIEGO, CA- OCTOBER 6: A shot of the Los Angeles Lakers logo before they take on the Denver Nuggets at the Valley View Sports Arena in San Diego, California on October 6, 2014 . NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2014 NBAE (Photo by Noah Graham /NBAE via Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are apparently on track to play their Thursday preseason game in China despite the rising tensions between the NBA and country after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protesters.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, "as of now, all indications" are the game will happen.

Los Angeles and Brooklyn are supposed to play each other Saturday in China as well.

Even if the games do happen, the time the two teams have spent in Shanghai has not gone according to the original plan. ESPN's Rachel Nichols reported NBA Cares events from the Lakers and Nets that were intended to benefit the Special Olympics were canceled.

What's more, Dave McMenamin of ESPN reported Chinese celebrities and corporate sponsorships have pulled out of appearances centered around the two games.

The controversy started when Morey posted in a since-deleted tweet: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

He has since issued a clarification of what he meant, saying, in part: "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. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives."

On Wednesday, Reuters reported China's Anta Sports Products stopped contract renewal negotiations with the NBA as one of a number of sponsorships from the country cutting ties with the league following Morey's tweet.

Anta has endorsement deals with Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson and Boston Celtics wingman Gordon Hayward, among others.

The Chinese Basketball Association also suspended its relationship with the Rockets.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released a statement to address the controversy and said he will support those within the league who exercise their right to free speech:

Morey's initial tweet came as the Rockets were preparing to play the Toronto Raptors in two preseason games in Japan. Toronto won Tuesday's game, and the next one is scheduled for Thursday.

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