he Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets will play a pair of preseason games later this week in both Shanghai and Shenzhen but Chinese television viewers won’t be able to watch the matches.
China has only grown more angry with the NBA after commissioner Adam Silver expressed the league’s support for Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s right to free expression after Morey ignited a massive political shitstorm over the weekend with a tweet backing the protests in Hong Kong.
Following Silver’s comments to Japanese media, China’s state broadcaster, CCTV, issued a statement on Tuesday declaring that it would suspend the broadcasts of both NBA China Games.
In its statement, CCTV said that it was “strongly dissatisfied” and opposed to Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression.
“We believe any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” the state broadcaster said, adding that it would be investigating all its cooperation and exchanges with the NBA.
CCTV, along with Tencent Sports, had earlier announced that it would not be broadcasting any Houston Rockets games. The Rockets have long been one of the most popular NBA teams in China after drafting Yao Ming in 2002.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Silver said that Yao, who now heads the Chinese Basketball Association, is “extremely upset” about how the NBA has handled the situation. “I accept we have a difference of opinion,” he said.
Silver will now travel to China where he’s extremely likely to receive a cold reception. After the NBA’s initial statement on the crisis was criticized by both sides for being too weak, he has released another statement that doubles-down on his refusal to punish Morey.
Adam Silver has released statement on league’s relationship status with China, reading in part: “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.” pic.twitter.com/A43BOAdG57
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 8, 2019
While they may not be watched, the Lakers vs. Nets games will at least be played in China. The same can not be said for four exhibition games between teams in the NBA’s development league which were to take place later this month in Suzhou. They have all been canceled outright by the CBA.