NBA preseason is already underway, and every year the NBA goes play in another country to promote the NBA around the globe. With just days away from the regular season The NBA shifts their focus from starting their season to dealing with a world affair. The NBA is massive in China; about 800 million Chinese citizens watch the NBA season. The Brooklyn Nets were supposed to take on the Los Angeles Lakers in a preseason game in China. One tweet by Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey shifted the relationship between China and the NBA. Here is an overview of the NBA’s controversy in China.
Hong Kong passed an extradition bill that allows them to transfer fugitives from Taiwan, Mainland China, and Macau. Critics of the bill are afraid that the Communist Party of China and Hong Kong will use this as an excuse to violate the human rights of government nonconformists. The bill is at the center of the protest and is making citizens protest.
The Tweet That Started It All
On October 4, 2019, Rockets General Manager, put out a tweet sharing an image, that has been since deleted, that read ‘Fight for Freedom Stand with Hong Kong.’ Ben Cohen, an author at the Wall Street Journal, stated that 12 hours after the tweet, Morey’s account was flooded with comments from the pro-Chinese-government. Morey would later put out a tweet apologizing for his remarks and that he did not intend to offend or hurt any Rocket fans or his friends in China. Morey also stated that his tweers were his own and that he does not speak for the Houston Rocket Organization or the NBA as a whole. Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, commented that Daryl Morey does not speak for the Rockets and that their presence in Toyko was all about promoting the NBA on an international level. In no way, shape, or form are they a political organization. China has banned Twitter, so it is safe to say the CBA did not receive any apology. The Rockets were in Tokyo to take on the Toronto Raptors in a preseason game on October 8, 2019.
The NBA Response
The NBA put out a statement stating they recognize the comments made by Darryl Morey have offended many people. Morey and his tweets do not represent the Rockets or the NBA.The league values the support individuals to educate themselves and share their views matters that are important to them. They respect China and hopes that sports and the NBA can bring people together. Adam Silver knows the comments made before left people confused or angered or who the NBA stands for, but they will support Morey like any other employee.
Nets vs. Lakers
The Lakers and Nets were set to play two exhibition games in China they left China on October 7 it was a 15-hour flight from Los Angeles to Shanghai China. It was Tuesday when the Lakers landed, and they got word that the NBA cares event the Nets were going to host was canceled. When the Lakers got to the Ritz, they found out that welcome reception for both teams had also been canceled. Wednesday now comes around, and the second NBA Cares event this time hosted by the Lakers had also been withdrawn by the Chinese Government. The Lakers were practicing at the Mercedes-Benz Arena, 30 minutes into practice players were being rushed off the floor by arena workers. The arena workers were told tp sand down and resurface the hardwood to remove the logos for the presenting sponsors of the China games because they had withdrawn. Sources told ESPN, one laker player had a $1 million endorsement deal with a Chinese company before the trip, and once he got there, it was gone. Other players had appearances canceled. LeBron James had two appearances with Nike, and one with Beats by Dre both were canceled on this trip.
Adam Silver held a meeting explaining to both teams and expressed that it would be a good idea for both teams to become ambassadors of the sport. LeBron asked Silver how he was dealing with the Morey tweet. Silver reminded the players that the league did not punish players for publicly criticizing President Donald Trump. Morey was exercising the same right when he challenged China. Posters for the games were taken down before the games could even be played. The Lakers and Nets would go on to represent their exhibition games in China. NBA’s Chinese streaming partner suspends pre-season games, including the game between the Nets and Lakers.
Players and Coaches around the league have made their comments on the situation, but LeBron came out and made his comments on the matter. LeBron stated that he believes that Morey was uneducated on the topic that his words could have harmed other people in many different ways. People criticized what he sais, and James put out a tweet stating that believes there were not any considerations for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. James put out another tweet saying that Morey could have waited. His team and the league went through a rough week and that Morey should have been more thoughtful of others. This made many news outlets and was a topic of discussion on shows like First Take. Max Kellerman believes that LeBron’s comments made him a sellout, while Stephen A. Smith believes that James was looking out for the players as a whole. The discussion could be argued both ways.