Shanghai Sports Federation says National Basketball Association fan event in city cancelled

Yolanda Curtis
October 9, 2019

The NBA has been rather progressive when it comes to allowing players, coaches and general managers to practice free speech on social media and elsewhere.

The Chinese state-run broadcaster responded on Tuesday, announcing it had shelved plans to broadcast a pair of pre-season exhibition games to be held in China this week and was considering more punishments.

Daryl Morey, the Rockets' General Manager, recently drew China's ire after posting an image on Twitter that read, "Fight For Freedom".

China, however, was pissed.

Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it will no longer air the two preseason games.

The Sixers were playing an exhibition game against a team from China too, so the league's ...

They even went so far as to paint over Rockets logos in a practice center in Shanghai.

The Global Times confirmed on Tuesday that these messages were real - not that the users behind them were actual Chinese citizens, but that the messages existed and were not doctored via screencaps - and justified them by proclaiming that the Hong Kong protest movement is as evil as the September 11 attacks.

Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr is under fire after he avoided commenting on the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

So, again, was this a case of the Sixers enforcing a neutral policy or are Hong Kong supporters being singled out for special suppression?

But on Wednesday, an editorial in the official English-language China Daily accused Silver of "brazenly endorsing Morey's secessionist-supporting tweet" and giving "a shot to the arms of the rioters of Hong Kong". With rumors swirling that Morey might be asked to step down, the Rockets vehemently denied them and appeared fully in support of their GM. An opinionated, overtly political, high profile figure advocating separatism was probably the last thing Beijing wanted in Hong Kong - now step forward Daryl Morey and his libertarian views on the future of the issue.

"Chinese netizens vowed to draw a clear line with the National Basketball Association after league Commissioner Adam Silver defended Morey, who showed solidarity with Hong Kong rioters in his tweet", the Global Times claimed, without clarifying that "netizens" who disagree with Beijing face swift incarceration.

But Silver said the league "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".

To quote Cleo McDowell in Coming to America, "This is America, Jack".

Rep. Julian Castro, another presidential hopeful from the Democratic Party, also posted a tweet criticizing China's move. There is a reason it's the very first amendment, after all. We cultivated an interest there, which has led to some fascinating results, but freedom of speech is a fundamental, inalienable right in this country and it should never be set aside for money. Who are we? Where do we want to go? Wachs also shouted "free Hong Kong". Morey deleted his tweet and released a statement saying that "I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event", adding that "I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention".

"When you tune into ESPN, we should be, we need to be covering those stories, if there is a connection to sports", he said. Not for a million or a billion or a trillion dollars. You don't see much political sloganeering in the stands at American spectator sports, partly because most fans leave that behind when they're in game mode but partly because the teams recognize it's bad for business.

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