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Adam Silver puts out new statement on relationship with China after 1st receives backlash

Adam Silver

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has released a lengthy new statement regarding the league’s relationship status with China. Silver’s first statement fell under heavy criticism from U.S. senators and many others, while also being misinterpreted by the Chinese media.

Instead, Silver took a more firm stance after a pro-Hong Kong tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey set off a firestorm in China, causing them to distance themselves from the Rockets — the most popular team in China since first drafting Yao Ming in 2002.

China has only continued to up the ante with the latest response to comments Silver made in Japan (where the Rockets are playing the Toronto Raptors) that defended Morey’s right to free speech. This didn’t please CCTV, who usually broadcasts most of the NBA games shown in China.

Via Eunice Yoon of CNBC:

“We have noticed that Adam Silver, the Commissioner of the NBA, who is participating in an event in Japan, has responded to Houston Rockets general manager Morey’s post of inappropriate Hong Kong-related remarks. We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. 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 of the Central Radio and Television Administration has decided to immediately suspend the current broadcast arrangements of the NBA pre-season (China Games) and immediately investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA.”

In the wake of this, Silver made an even punchier statement, noting the league office will not police what players, executives, or any personnel say about those political issues.

Via NBA.com:

“I recognize our initial statement left people angered, confined or unclear on who we are or what the NBA stands for. Let me be more clear… The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.”

Silver and the NBA have clearly drawn the line in their stance, and these words will now have a ramification when it comes to the league’s partnership with China, likely sooner than later.