SHANGHAI, China – Apparently the NBA is going to go 0-for-China in terms of media availability on this trip that has gone from highly anticipated to highly controversial.
Both the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers’ scheduled availability has been called off surrounding Saturday’s game in Shenzen.
In the wake of NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s statements supporting Houston GM Daryl Morey’s right to free speech, the communist Chinese government already had shut down every press conference before and after the Nets’ 114-111 win Thursday in Shanghai.
The situation won’t be any better in Shenzen. The only difference is the league finally got proactive and took matters into their own hands.
“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.”
For background, Morey had retweeted a meme last Friday supporting the Hong Kong protestors. He later deleted the tweet and apologized, but the Chinese government wasn’t appeased. Then Silver made statements to mollify the government that not only still didn’t suffice, but vexed some stateside that accused the league of kowtowing.
When Silver followed up with an interview that backed Morey’s right to free speech – not passing any judgment on the content of the Houston GM’s message, only sticking to the American belief of his right to expression – the communist Chinese government became incensed.
The Chinese government has canceled a host of events, including:
- On Tuesday, the Nets’ NBA Cares dedication event at a local school.
- On Wednesday, the Lakers’ NBA Cares Special Olympics Clinic, both teams’ post-practice availability, and the NBA Fan Night.
- On Thursday, the NBA 2K event as well as NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s pregame press conference, both teams’ postgame press conferences and each sides mixed zone availability all eventually got shut down as well.
Now, moving forward — with both teams arriving in Shenzen Friday — the NBA took charge of the situation. They decided to call off the scheduled press conferences, although technically not putting their teams, coaches or players under any direct gag order. In essence, they conferred internally and came to the decision together.