NBA back in controversy after appearance of Taiwan island flag during broadcast

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2019/11/10 23:38:40

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Photo: IC

About one month after Houston Rockets general manager's controversial tweet on China's Hong Kong, the NBA is in spotlight again after Chinese internet giant Tencent halted transmission of an NBA game on Saturday allegedly for an audience member wearing a cloth with the flag of the island of Taiwan.

The live streaming of a crucial game between the Miami Heat and LA Lakers on Saturday night switched over to another NBA game, the Portland Blazers against Brooklyn Nets, after someone wearing the cloth in the front seat was caught by the camera. Tencent explained that "the game's transmission medium failed to meet broadcasting standards." 

According to media reported, more than 16.2 millions of Chinese fans watched the Saturday game.

The incident came about one month after Tencent and other Chinese sports platforms suspended airing NBA games after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey's controversial tweet in support of Hong Kong rioters in October. 

Although Tencent Sports have restored live-streaming of NBA games, the name and logo of the Houston Rockets were nowhere to be found on the Tencent Sports page, which features other NBA franchises.  

Screenshots online showed that a man in the first row wearing a hoodie with a "blue sky, white sun" flag on the chest, which some viewers took as reason for the suspension. 

Sports commentators said that the platform is not the one that should take the blame when facing a vital issue about China's bottom line. 

Tencent, NBA's broadcast partner in China since 2015, is unable to decide the content of the match game in the broadcasting signal, so the possibility can't be ruled out that the case was intentionally made by broadcaster to provoke Chinese fans, Wang Dazhao, a Beijing-based senior sports commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Some net users called for a total boycott of the NBA league on Sunday, whose image  has been tarnished among Chinese fans since the Morey's case.  

"Why should a basketball become a stage of political propaganda? The NBA is not clean anymore," said a net user.

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