With the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets still immersed heavily in controversy, the NBA has set a course to get both teams back stateside with as little further incident as possible that could incite China.
The strategy: Get in. Stay quiet. Come home.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN is in China for the games and relayed this report and statement from the NBA:
The Nets’ 114-111 victory over the Lakers in Shanghai on Thursday was able to happen only with a stipulation by the Chinese government mandating that no media availability of any kind be held at the game and that NBA commissioner Adam Silver cancel his pregame news conference.
”We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA announced in a statement Friday. “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.”
The league is making this decision independent of Chinese authorities, sources told ESPN.
As McMenamin points out, this is a similar edict as the one brought on by the Chinese government, that precluded players and coaches from addressing the media either before or after the Lakers and Nets’ last game, Thursday morning.
Honestly, this is probably best for all parties. Yes, this feels like an American organization offering up its freedom of expression as a result of pressure from an authoritarian regime, but there is almost nothing to be gained from answering questions while still in China and with emotions from both sides still so raw.
Maybe once both teams are back and with some time having passed, those involved can speak on what has to have been a surreal experience, but one wrong quote could pour gas on some extremely volatile embers.
The Lakers and Nets play again at 4:30 AM PDT and, once that’s over, will likely get back to their home cities as soon as humanly possible.