On the west coast of the United States, nearly everyone was asleep on Monday night as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and the league released a statement in response to the recent international firestorm launched by Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey tweeting (and quickly deleting) a message of support for protestors currently demonstrating in Hong Kong.
The NBA’s initial statement was fairly milquetoast, calling for unity, saying the outrage in China over Morey’s tweet “regrettable” and that his viewpoint “did not represent the views of the Rockets or NBA.” It clarified that Morey had the right to express himself, but hardly seemed to be supporting him for doing so, trying to please everyone and as result satisfying no one.
Early Monday morning, Silver attempted to clarify the league’s views in both the aforementioned statement, and at a press conference with the media who traveled to China to cover the Los Angeles Lakers’ and Brooklyn Nets’ two preseason games in the country:
Adam Silver just put out this statement that attempts to clarify where the NBA stands on China and its employees expressing themselves. pic.twitter.com/Tp0K7RcuAE— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 8, 2019
Adam Silver on China not airing preseason games: "It’s unfortunate. But if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important we adhere to those values."— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) October 8, 2019
Silver added that he plans to meet with officials in Shanghai about this issue. pic.twitter.com/TAvUIy3WR0
And as is mentioned in the second tweet above, Silver’s statement shown in the first tweet caused CCTV to cancel its planned broadcast of the Lakers-Nets game. Tencent — which already had announced it would cancel broadcasts of all Rockets games as a response to Morey’s tweet — also will not broadcast Lakers-Nets in the country:
#China ups the ante on the @NBA. State TV CCTV to halt all broadcasts of games. Condemns Commissioner Adam Silver’s defense of @NBA statements on @dmorey on #HongKongProtest. CCTV announcement below: pic.twitter.com/GoeKUktSkA— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) October 8, 2019
Tencent, which streams @NBA games in #China, posted on social media that “starting from today, Tencent Sports will suspend NBA pre-season (China games) broadcasting arrangements.” This after the tech giant stopped airing @HoustonRockets games on Oct 6.— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) October 8, 2019
“Between money and life, Tencent Sports has chosen to save its life.” - user on #China social media hinting tech giant had to go along with government winds and stop airing @NBA games. People talking online re: local media reports Tencent inked $1.5bln deal to air @NBA for 5 yrs.— Eunice Yoon (@onlyyoontv) October 8, 2019
For now, the Lakes and Nets are still slated to play two games in China, one at the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai on Thursday, and one on Saturday in the Shenzhen Dayun Arena in Shenzhen. Both games are slated to be played at 4:30 a.m. PST.
But with this rapidly developing into quite a standoff between the NBA and a foreign government, at this point it wouldn’t be surprising to ultimately see the Lakers and Nets games cancelled entirely, especially if the entire country they’re being played for won’t even be broadcasting them.
Stay tuned to Silver Screen and Roll for updates as we get them.