The NBA has cancelled media commitments for Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers during the rest or their China tour, amid a furore over a tweet in support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
No players or executives were made available for official briefings this week in China as the league responded to the backlash from the quickly deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey last weekend.
The league gave no reason for the cancellation of Friday’s scheduled news conferences after it had earlier confirmed that Saturday’s Lakers-Nets exhibition game in Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, will proceed.
Chinese state media has characterised Morey’s tweet as the latest example of meddling in China’s affairs.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he supports Morey’s right to free speech on Tuesday.
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Athletes such as Lakers star forward LeBron James and league figures have also declined to answer questions when spotted by reporters at various venues in Shanghai and Shenzhen.
Several Chinese companies have suspended their partnership with the NBA in recent days, and Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it will not broadcast the Lakers-Nets games.
Houston Rockets merchandise has been pulled from several Nike and NBA stores in major Chinese cities, with the franchise’s direct association with Morey making it a central target of the furore.
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Managers at some of the Nike stores said they had been instructed to remove the goods via an internal memo from management.
The first of the two exhibition games scheduled in China took place on Thursday night, which the Nets won 114-111.
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