NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Heads To China Amid Daryl Morey Tweet Uproar
Chinese state broadcasting outlets decided to take the preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets off the air after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey voiced his support for Hong Kong protesters in a tweet over the weekend.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver still plans to attend these games in China as he continues his international tour with teams from the league playing overseas.
Silver was blindsided by the news of the games planned to be taken off the air.
“But if those are the consequences of us adhering to our values, I still feel it’s very, very important to adhere to those values,” Silver told reporters in a statement.
While Silver does say that he and the league are “apologetic” for the comments, he also said “we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”
“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees,” Silver added. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”
Silver said in Tokyo before another preseason bout that it would be appropriate for people involved with the league “to be sensitive” to different cultures when communicating about serious topics.
We still feel it is “critically important” to adhere to our values of free expression, even if these are the consequences for that, says NBA Commissioner Adam Silver https://t.co/forkoa2hT5 pic.twitter.com/EIDjhpcmS3
— Bloomberg (@business) October 8, 2019
China Central Television (CCTV), the most prominent TV provider in China, is also reviewing all of its cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA. The broadcaster indicated the decision was prompted by Silver’s earlier remarks in Japan.
“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” CCTV’s statement read. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.”
Silver will arrive in Shanghai on Wednesday and hope to meet with several officials, including Chinese Basketball Association president Yao Ming. Silver will be looking to find common ground with many officials on the matter and ensure that a three-decade relationship isn’t shattered by a loose comment from one general manager.
The commissioner has a fine line to walk when he meets with Chinese officials, as he has to find a way to emphasize the free speech rights of the NBA while appeasing to the wants of a Chinese market heavily invested in the league. If Silver does have to choose, he appears to be putting the NBA first.
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.”