Chinese Media Slams NBA's "About Face" For Tweet On Hong Kong

The NBA backs

The NBA backs"freedom of expression" its commissioner Adam Silver insisted earlier this week

At least one Chinese sporting goods company said it was no longer cooperating with the Rockets, NBA streaming partner Tencent Holdings Ltd (騰訊) - which has a US$1.5 billion contract with the league over the next five seasons - said it would not show Rockets games and a sports news Web site in China said it was no longer covering the team. It's not a new stance for Silver; he's referenced how basketball now can be similar to the phenomenon known as "pingpong diplomacy" - when table tennis players from the US and China played in the early 1970s and essentially began a major mending of relations between the two countries.

The NBA is mired in a political controversy in China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted last week - then deleted - a message supporting pro-democracy protesters in the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong.

Chinese state media accused NBA Commissioner Adam Silver of "willing to be another handy tool for U.S. interference" after he insisted the league would not apologise for a tweet supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

But a day after the National Basketball Association cancelled a Nets publicity event in the city, National Basketball Association representatives told AFP that it had scrapped a similar public event involving the Lakers on Wednesday.

The phrase is a popular slogan at the protests in Hong Kong that have raged for months.

"We're strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver's claim to support Morey's right to freedom of expression", the statement read.

Silver is going to Shanghai on Wednesday and said he hopes to meet with officials and some of the league's business partners there in an effort to find common ground. "I don't think it's inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles".

Crews at Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz arena, where the Nets and Lakers were to tip-off, were seen Wednesday morning removing the logos of the NBA, Nets, Lakers, and corporate sponsors from lamp-posts and walls in the area.

The protests were sparked by a proposed extradition law that would have allowed suspects to be sent to China to face trial.

Beijing has often accused foreign forces of fuelling the unrest in Hong Kong.

Early NBA statements on the issue drew fire from USA critics as overly capitulating, setting the stage for Silver to settle matters in Tokyo.

"It is inevitable that people around the world - including from America and China - will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the N.B.A.to adjudicate those differences".

The NBA had also said that "the values of the league support individuals' educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them".

It continued, "However, the N.B.A. will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game".

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