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China will no longer broadcast NBA games after Commissioner Adam Silver announces his support for free speech


Damage control at its best

Photo by Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg via Getty Images

China revealed it will immediately cease the broadcasting of NBA preseason games after Commissioner Adam Silver announced his support of free speech.

Last week, Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets' general manager, tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protests. After backlash, Morey deleted the tweet and said that his opinions did not reflect those of the Houston Rockets or the NBA.

Both the NBA and the Rockets initially attempted to distance itself from Morey's tweet.

You can see Morey's original tweet below, and read more about the violent protests in question here.

What are the details?

State-run China Central Television responded to Silver's defense of Morey's right of self-expression by killing NBA preseason broadcasts.

"We believe that any speech challenging a country's national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech," a statement on the decision read.

On Tuesday, CCTV addressed a statement on the matter on social media, pointing out its "strong dissatisfaction and opposition" to Silver's defense of Morey's right to free expression.

Silver told Japan's Kyodo News, "I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear ... that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression."

Silver admitted that the "economic impact" of CCTV opting to strike NBA preseason games from its broadcasting schedule is "already clear."

"There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have," he added.

The NBA's initial statement on Morey's tweet being "regrettable" due to its offense of the Chinese government did not sit well with many Americans.

The organization's statement read:

We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals' education themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.

Business Insider reports that the NBA — which is vastly popular in China — could stand to lose "hundreds of millions of dollars" if it loses its Chinese sponsors.

What is the commissioner doing next?

On Tuesday, TMZ reported that Silver is headed to Hong Kong in an attempt to salvage the relationship between the NBA and China.

"One of the enduring strengths of the NBA is our diversity," Silver said on Tuesday. "It is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences."

Silver doubled down on his original remarks, however, and said that 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."

"I recognize our initial statement left people angered, confused or unclear on who we are or what the NBA stands for," Silver added. "Essentially, what I've said in that statement is the long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community.

"And in this case, Daryl Morey, as the general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees," he concluded. "What I also tried to suggest is I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech. We will have to live with those consequences."

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