China gives NBA openers cold shoulder

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/22 22:38:40

National broadcaster shows no schedule of league’s games

The NBA pre-season game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers is held at the Mercedes-Benz Cultural Center in Shanghai. Chinese fans distribute the national flag ahead of the game as a fan is seen holding a jersey asking Daryl Morey to resign. Photo: Yang Hui/GT

China's national broadcaster appears to have no plans to air the opening games of the NBA season on Wednesday, as the US basketball league's situation drastically worsened in China in the aftermath of Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey's tweet in support of Hong Kong rioters earlier this month.

A Global Times reporter found on Tuesday, a day ahead of the first game day of the regular NBA season this year, that China Central Television (CCTV) has not scheduled a live broadcast for either of Wednesday's games, based on the CCTV-5 sports channel schedule online.

CCTV-5 announced on October 8 it would suspend airing NBA preseason China games following the Morey tweet. Chinese live-streaming video site Tencent Sports also called off broadcasts for preseason games on October 8. Tencent has been an NBA broadcast partner since 2015.

Tencent Sports and Sina NBA channel had restored live-streaming of pre-season games, and Wednesday's games are also on their schedule. However, the name and logo of the Houston Rockets were nowhere to be found on the Tencent Sports page, which features other NBA franchises. 

China's vast NBA fans appear not ready to forgive the NBA or Morey.  No NBA related topics were on the top-search list of China's twitter-like Sina Weibo on Tuesday. Observers said that's rare in the basketball loving country.

Hupu, a Shanghai-based basketball site, has also deleted a special section for the Houston Rockets, but information on the other 29 NBA teams remains available. 

Rockets fans said they understand the treatment their former favorite team is receiving, leaving comments such as "there is no team greater than the country's interests," and "there can be no love or support for Rockets unless Morey is fired."

Airing NBA games but leaving the Rockets out is a good decision, which is in line with public opinion, and which some devoted Rockets fans would understand, some netizens said.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver also irritated Chinese fans with his "freedom of speech" remarks, and failed to censure Morey for his Hong Kong tweet. 

Silver noted the league "is already dealing with fairly dramatic financial consequences," ESPN reported. 

"Most followers of the NBA in China are young and the main voices on social media. Their reactions, including calling for a total boycott of the US sports league, are legitimate and reasonable, as they are also the most enthusiastic patriots with pride and confidence," Su Qun, one of the best-known basketball commentators in China, and the editor-in-chief of the Basketball Pioneer newspaper, told the Global Times.

Chinese broadcasters and sponsors of the NBA are doing the right thing, and being rational in targeting the "source of the evil," without denying the league and the sport as a whole, Su told the Global Times.

Su suggested that to win back the Chinese market, Silver should remove Morey and "purify" the NBA to eliminate "the totally unnecessary political color."

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang reiterated on October 14 that "regardless of whether it's in China, the US or anywhere else, an important prerequisite for exchanges and cooperation is mutual respect," in response to Tencent restoring NBA broadcasts.

Posted in: SOCIETY

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