China’s unforgiving authoritarian government canceled an NBA Cares event for the Brooklyn Nets that’d been scheduled to occur Tuesday in Shanghai and announced that its state media apparatus would no longer air preseason NBA games.
“Just hours before the Nets players were supposed to take part in an NBA Cares event at the New World Experimental School in Shanghai, the event was canceled by the Chinese government,” the New York Post confirmed.
“The Education Bureau shut down the event — a dedication ceremony for the new NBA Cares Learn and Play Center in Shanghai – with no explanation given to the media.”
China Central Television, or CCTV, likewise canceled its coverage of the NBA’s preseason games.
“Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” general manager Daryl Morey tweeted last Friday.
Here was the tweet as far as i know. pic.twitter.com/pC6Y3yV43z
— はいい (@clown1208) October 7, 2019
The tweet infuriated both China and its defenders here in the states, including its tacit defenders within the NBA itself.
“We have lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact,” the Chinese government’s consulate office in Houston said in a statement.
In response, Morey issued a groveling apology:
1/ I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
2/ I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
The NBA meanwhile tried to have its cake and eat it too by issuing a statement both in support of China and also in support of Morey’s right to free speech and expression.
“We recognize that the views expressed by [Morey] have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” the statement read. “While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating 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.”
#UPDATE: “We recognize that the views expressed by Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” said an @NBA statement released on Monday pic.twitter.com/XZAWQ0THkJ
— People’s Daily, China (@PDChina) October 7, 2019
But the sudden cancellation of the Brooklyn Nets’ event suggests that these efforts to appease China have failed — and that the Communist nation intends to punish the entire NBA for Morey’s tweet.
While the nation offered no explanation for the cancellation, it’s strongly suspected it was spurred by “the Chinese government’s hurt feelings over Morey’s [original] comments,” the Post explained.
The Chinese government is an almost totalitarian regime that strongly disfavors opposition of any kind, including opposition defined by support for its “enemies.”
As it stands, the people in Hong Kong have become enemies as per their protests against the authoritarian regime’s increasing political influence and control over their lives.
Speaking Tuesday in Japan, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly admitted that the drama caused by Morey’s tweet was leading to financial ramifications but suggested that the consequences were worth upholding the Houston Rockets’ general manager’s free speech rights.
“There are the values that have been part of this league from its earliest days, and that includes free expression,” he said. “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.”
“I accept that it is also Chinese governments’ and Chinese businesses’ right to react to those words and, at least from my long-time experience in the NBA, it will take some time to heal some of these issues.”
He later added that though “it’s unfortunate” how China has responded to the situation, “if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s important.”
It was this comment in particular that spurred the second cancellation by CCTV.
“We are strongly dissatisfied and opposed Adam (Silver)’s claim to support Morey’s rights of free expression,” the state media apparatus said in a statement Tuesday. “We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.”
“To this end, CCTV Sports Channel decided to immediately suspend the current broadcast arrangements of the NBA preseason (China games) and immediately investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA.”
JUST IN: Chinese state media CCTV says it is suspending the current broadcast arrangements for the @NBA pre-season games in China after Adam Silver defended Houston Rockets GM @dmorey pic.twitter.com/PEWgG5Zp7j
— Arjun Kharpal (@ArjunKharpal) October 8, 2019
The Los Angeles Lakers are reportedly scheduled for their own NBA Cares event on Wednesday. It’s unclear whether their event will also be canceled at the last minute.
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