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NBA working ‘super hard’ to reignite dialogue with China

Adam Silver Daryl Morey LeBron James China

The NBA and China used to have a solid relationship, especially after hometown hero Yao Ming made waves in the international basketball scene. However, a single tweet sent out by former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey shown in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters back in October of 2019 eventually has drastically altered the relationship between both sides.

After a year since the incident, the league is reportedly exerting its best effort to make amends and show its commitment towards China, as per The Week‘s Rebecca Kanthor.

Joseph Krassenstein, the director of marketing at AIB Sportsbrands Studios – a company that helps NBA players connect with their fans in China, recently spoke regarding the matter and how the relationship could get back to where it used to be.

“There’s a lot of things happening behind the scenes with a lot of very influential people on both sides, from the government side, the distribution broadcasting side, to also the NBA China side — they’ve all worked super hard to get back to a level of open dialogue and commitment to pushing the game further in China.”

Regardless of the ongoing issues, Krassenstein believes that fans from China will still continue to be in support of the league and its players moving forward.

“If the NBA is going through a bit of political tension, people will still authentically follow their favorite icons and their idols,” he said. “I think that fandom never stopped. If anything, I think the fans doubled down in their fandom in their efforts to keep connected to their favorite stars.”

Morey’s tweet eventually led in the dismay of Chinese basketball fans. Their disappointment was felt by the league and its effects were made evident since China remains to be one of the biggest markets of the NBA. The country’s large population and the people’s immense passion for the game of basketball has been an integral factor for the development of the league in recent years.

In response to the matter, the NBA has previously tried to appease China by showing support through signs and videos saying “Go Wuhan.” The league also extended help by sending medical equipment and personal protective gear to help fight the coronavirus.

Despite the ongoing tension, the situation gradually eased when China lifted the TV ban and broadcast the last two games of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat. It was as an encouraging sign but also served as a fair warning for other professional leagues to not irk and be involved in another country’s political situation, especially with that of a big market like China.