The NBA has defended free speech following a team executive’s tweet in support of the ongoing Hong Kong protests.
Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, wrote on Twitter: “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong”. It caused a furore in China, and Morey’s attempt to backtrack then succeeded in upsetting US fans. NBA boss Adam Silver defended Morey and said the league would always “support freedom of expression”.
However, in an uncomfortable press conference, the NBA made it clear it needed to repair relationships following CCTV and Tencent both announcing are dropping Rocket’s games henceforth.
NBA draws a huge viewership in China and throughout Asia, mainly via streaming platforms. The Rockets have been popular there since the team signed Chinese star Yao Ming in 2002 – who now heads the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA).
Chinese broadcasters also scrapped plans this week to air two NBA pre-season games being played in the country.
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