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NBA cancels media access for teams in China so players don't have to answer Hong Kong questions
Visual China Group via Getty Images/Visual China Group via Getty Images

NBA cancels media access for teams in China so players don't have to answer Hong Kong questions

Cowardly move

After a week of terrible answers from NBA players and coaches about pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, the NBA has just given up.

Friday, the league cancelled all media access for teams that are currently in China for preseason games, so that players don't have to risk their lucrative Chinese endorsements by potentially upsetting communist China, CNN reported.

"We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China," an NBA statement read. "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."

What's the situation?

The Chinese communist government is seeking more influence over Hong Kong, the democratic former British colony that has coexisted with mainland China under the "one country, two systems" principle since 1997.

Protesters in Hong Kong are resisting these attempts by mainland China, resulting in some intense and sometimes violent demonstrations in the streets of Hong Kong over the past several months.

After Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong, the Chinese government became upset with the NBA, and some Chinese entities began cutting ties with the league.

The league, and many of its stars, stand to lose millions of dollars if the NBA's relationship with China breaks down. So, when asked about Chinese human rights abuses or their opinion on protests in Hong Kong, players and coaches have awkwardly given non-answers to avoid offending China. Like this one:

The NBA even shut down a CNN reporter who attempted to ask Russell Westbrook and James Harden of the Houston Rockets about China, although the league later apologized.

It's unclear how or if the relationship between China and the NBA will be repaired, short of the NBA coming out in full opposition to Hong Kong protesters. What is clear is that the NBA, a league that has prided itself on social justice activism, is coming up short in its handling of this situation.

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