After Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the protests revolving around Hong Kong raised a furore in China, the NBA’s exhibition series in the Asian country will come to an end on Saturday with the game between Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
However, the league will not face the media prior to the match. NBA confirmed the postponement of the press conference that were scheduled on Friday.
“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA said in a statement.
“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,” the league said of the players.
The first of the two exhibition games scheduled in China took place Thursday night, which the Nets won 114-111, was well-attended, but was not broadcasted after Chinese firms decided to cut ties with NBA.
Chinese broadcasters CCTV had said that they had suspended the broadcast of the preseason games.
Morey had replied to his tweet saying it should now way be considered as a tweet from the league and those were his personal views, but the ties between China and NBA are still in jeopardy.
“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,” Morey wrote in a statement on Twitter. “My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”
The league’s statement also did not seem to go down well as it led criticism that it was attempting to appease China at the cost of traditional U.S. values — such as free speech. The fallout forced the NBA to issue another statement and hold a news conference to reaffirm the league’s stance that it will not censor players or teams.
“The long-held values of the NBA are to support the freedom of expression and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community,” Silver had said, speaking at a news conference near Tokyo earlier this week.
Wow, this is chilling. The NBA minder shuts down CNN’s question here and refuses to let the players answer it. Not only are they acting as China’s censors for their employees, they’re now bringing China’s suppression of the critical press to our shores. https://t.co/2cYISBpIwU
— (((Yair Rosenberg))) (@Yair_Rosenberg) October 10, 2019
While no formal press events will be held prior to the final exhibition game, NPR reported that Lakers and Nets can hold their media gatherings independent of the NBA if they wish to do so.