NBA Cancels Media Availability for Rest of China Trip Because of Controversy

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistOctober 11, 2019

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks at a news conference before an NBA preseason basketball game between the Houston Rockets and the Toronto Raptors Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Saitama, near Tokyo. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The NBA announced Friday there will be no media availability for the remainder of its tour in China this week.

Ahead of Saturday's preseason game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shenzhen, the NBA released the following statement: "We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China. They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad, and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time."

Thursday's preseason game between the Lakers and Nets in Shanghai was held only after the NBA agreed to cancel media availability and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's scheduled pregame press conference, per ESPN's Dave McMenamin.

Relations between the NBA and China have been frayed since Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted and then deleted a message supporting protests in Hong Kong.

Per McMenamin, sources said the decision was made solely by the NBA and not influenced by Chinese authorities.

Many Chinese sponsors, including sports brand Anta, have announced they will no longer work with the NBA following Morey's tweet and Silver's subsequent statement, which supported free speech for everyone in the NBA:

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Chinese television station CCTV announced it would no longer air Lakers vs. Nets.

Morey's tweet referenced ongoing protests in Hong Kong over a proposed law that would allow fugitives to be extradited to China despite there being no such agreement in place between China and Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China, and they exist under a "one country, two systems" doctrine. Hong Kong is largely autonomous, but protesters have argued that enacting such a law would undermine its independence.

China became part of the NBA's Global Games initiative in 2004, and games have been held in the country annually since 2012.

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