Thursday, 20 February, 2020


Gregg Popovich has an opinion on NBA-China controversy, Adam Silver

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 Gregg Popovich has an opinion on NBA-China controversy, Adam Silver
Melba Vasquez | 09 October, 2019, 20:58

The NBA took a lot of heat earlier this week when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted "Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong".

And while the tweet was quickly deleted, the reaction from China has been swift and severe, with the Rockets going from one of the country's favorite teams to a blacklisted one nearly overnight. Then there was the statement from CCTV, the Chinese broadcaster: "We voice our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Adam Silver offering as an excuse the right to freedom of expression".

The NBA's initial response to Morey's tweet drew bipartisan criticism from prominent USA politicians, including Sen.

Additionally, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets were scheduled to play Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen.

And now, China's problems have become the NBA's problems - minus the tear gas and water cannons.

Silver also said he hopes to sit down with Chinese officials on Wednesday ahead of the Nets-Lakers game to discuss the matter.

The NBA has been steeped in controversy after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey accidentally created an global conflict when he tweeted a picture showing solidarity for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The NBA's lucrative interests in China are under threat, but the league enjoys an important piece of leverage that could carry it through the crisis: it's the only game in town.

He tweeted about the ordeal - which comes amid rising tensions between the United States and China in wake of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet.

But the league remains massively popular in China, due partly to Chinese former NBA great Yao Ming who, ironically, played for the Rockets from 2002-2011 and now heads the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).

Consequently, Morey's Tweet won't be found on Twitter.

A local joint venture of Nissan Motor Co. was the latest to distance itself from the US league, joining China's largest sportswear maker, the second-biggest dairy firm and a smartphone brand who all said they were pulling out. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that Morey doesn't speak for the team and the Rockets aren't a political organization, but he also said he supported Morey.

"We believe any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability do not belong to the category of free speech", CCTV Sports said in a statement.

The NBA's defiance shows the league is willing to pay the price for upholding what Silver called "values of equality, respect and freedom of expression" in its most promising market. "It is inevitable that people around the world - including from America and China - will have different viewpoints over different issues".

The NBA has spent years and many millions of dollars investing in China, helping to build courts, giving broadcasting rights away for free and bringing its stars over for preseason games.

ESPN discussions have been directed at Mr. Morey, whether he'll keep his job and how it could effect the team's bottom line, rather than the actual conflict in Hong Kong - and that is reportedly by design.

As far as we're concerned, you can keep your money and we'll take our ball and go home.

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