- All of the NBA’s official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league as the firestorm over an executive’s tweet about Hong Kong continues to escalate.
- The feud between China and the NBA began over the weekend when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted support for the protests in Hong Kong.
- In the days that followed, the Chinese Basketball Association, the broadcasters CCTV and Tencent, and retail sponsors pulled their support for the Rockets.
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All of the NBA’s official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league as the firestorm over an executive’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters continues to escalate.
All of the companies on the NBA’s list of wholly owned Chinese sponsors had suspended ties with the league as of Wednesday, according to CNN Business. Those businesses included CTrip, China’s biggest online travel website, and the Chinese fast-food chain Dicos.
The feud between China and the NBA began over the weekend when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
The tweet prompted backlash from Chinese social-media users, and the Chinese Basketball Association — which represents China in the International Basketball Federation — announced on Sunday that it was halting cooperation with the Rockets in response to the tweet.
Several of the team’s sponsors and partners in China, including the state broadcaster China Central Television and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports, announced on Sunday that they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.
The NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, on Monday told the Japanese news outlet Kyodo that there had already been “economic impact” as a result of Morey’s tweet. He later said in a statement that the league would not censor its employees.
“The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees, and team owners say or will not say,” Silver said in the statement. “We simply could not operate that way.”
In response to Silver’s comments, CCTV and Tencent announced they would suspend broadcasts of all NBA preseason matches.
On Wednesday, promotional material for a preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers was removed from buildings across Shanghai.
Meet-and-greets and media events were also postponed, an NBA spokeswoman said, according to The Wall Street Journal. The spokeswoman told The Journal that she had no clear information on whether Thursday’s game would take place.
NBA fans have also been speaking out about the escalating feud, brandishing posters and T-shirts in support of Hong Kong.
On Wednesday, the former NBA All-Star Dennis Rodman urged the league to hire him as an ambassador to smooth out the feud with China.
Rodman has developed a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and used basketball as a medium to try to quell tensions between North Korea and the US.