NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced the league lost less than $400 million in revenue in China amid the fallout from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's tweet supporting Hong Kong protestors. Silver, however, doesn't expect the losses to continue long-term.
Speaking at his annual All-Star Weekend press conference, Silver noted the NBA certainly took a hit after Chinese companies canceled or paused relationships with the league, but the freeze-out is beginning to thaw.
"It's substantial, I don't want to run from that," Silver said Saturday. "We were taken off the air in China for a period of time, and it caused our many business partners in China to feel it was, therefore, inappropriate to have ongoing relationships with us. But I don't have any sense that there's any permanent damage to our business there."
Games were pulled from television countrywide, and there was a reduction in the number of games available to stream online. According to ESPN's Brian Windhorst, "the outbreak of the coronavirus and the response to that outbreak have slowed many business matters."
According to Windhorst, Silver said the league is still discussing "whether Team USA would play pre-Olympic exhibition games [in Shanghai] in July or if the NBA would return for China Games in October."
"I know that, from the data we look at, there continues to be enormous interest for the NBA in China," Silver said. "And my sense is that there will be a return to normalcy fairly soon, but I can't say exactly when, when it comes to CCTV."
The NBA's relationship with China is important to a league looking to expand its global footprint. That was thrown into chaos after Morey's tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters on October 4. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta responded by saying Morey didn't speak for the team. The NBA also called Morey's tweet "regrettable," and the league's initial response set off criticism both in the United States and abroad.