The NBA in China

Jake Giotto ’22, Sports Writer

For the past several weeks the spotlight of the National Basketball Association (NBA) has been on the tweets of owners and players regarding the situation in Hong Kong. On Oct. 4, the dilemma began with a tweet by Rockets manager, Daryl Morey. The tweet read “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.” 

The NBA has become the most popular sports league in China over the past several years due to the NBA’s initiative to reach the overseas fans. The league has introduced youth camps and academies, as well as signing television deals with several different Chinese tech giants in an effort to bring more games to the Chinese fans. 

The tweet by Morey has damaged the relationship the NBA has worked so hard to build over the last several years. The tweet caused nearly all the Chinese tech giants to cut the ties with the 

NBA. This includes Tencent which brought the 2019 NBA finals to 2.9 billion Chinese citizens last year. 

NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, released a statement declaring that the league does not regulate the speech of its players. 

Lebron James, NBA superstar, later commented on the situation saying that Morey was “either misinformed or not really educated on the situation.” James’ comments infuriated many by giving off the perception that he supports the Chinese and their oppressive actions over Hong Kong. It was later reported that James’ had lost many lucrative endorsement deals in response to Morey’s comments. James most likely spoke out in an effort to help rebuild his partnerships with the Chinese companies that he had lost. 

The NBA finds itself in a difficult situation. The decision for the league is to either stand up for the free speech of the players and coaches or to make decisions that can start to rebuild their lucrative relationship with China.