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The Censorship War Between NBA and China

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    Here's a story you have to read to believe as you might forget how different countries treat 'freedom of speech and expression'.

    Basically boils down to a tweet the Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted (and then quickly deleted), in where he came out in support of the Hong Kong protesters. The tweet was of an image that simply read: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

    The Chinese official basketball association responded as heavy handed as they possibly could have afterward:

    The Chinese Basketball Association — headed by former Rockets center and Hall of Famer Yao Ming, announced that it was suspending cooperation with the Houston team. Tencent, a media partner of the NBA in China with a five-year streaming deal worth $1.5 billion, and China's state television also said they wouldn't be airing Rockets games.


    This created a predictable avalanche of apologies and strategic responses for most everyone closely involved, as you would guess. The Rocket's owner promptly made a tweet distancing himself from Morey's original tweet.

    Adam Silver and the NBA at first apologized on Twitter in both English and Mandarin. But after a little bit of time, Silver came out in defense of Morey saying 'freedom of expression' is paramount in the league, and he will not actively censor players or front-office personnel. So conveniently Silver sat on both sides of the fence on this one (from my view).

    And then Morey apologized, again on Twitter, saying:

    1/ I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.

    — Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019

    It's amazing to me how easy it is to offend other countries' sensibilities to the point of blowing up multi-year deals and millions or even potentially billions of dollars in future revenue over a single tweet. And the tweet wasn't even some long-winded diatribe on how Hong Kong was in the wrong. It simply showed support for protesters. And the tweet was deleted and followed up by multiple apologies.

    China is also blocking other games from airing in their country and further long term action looks to be in the works. This is a very precarious situation for the NBA, who was planning and hoping on expanding the league into China for years and years now. Tons of money on the table. But when it comes down to having to cow down to the Chinese government's talking points or else, and any amount of dissent is off the table, I say it's not worth it. Stand your ground NBA.

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    Here's NBA commissioner Adam Silver on the issue:

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    How one tweet snowballed into the NBA's worst nightmare

    This is only getting worse for the NBA. Here's a CNN timeline of the event. On 10/9, 'Every one of the NBA's partners in China suspends ties' --

    All 11 of the NBA's official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league since Monday, according to a review by CNN Business of company statements and social media posts.

    CTrip (CTRP), China's biggest online travel website, said that it has "dropped all NBA-related tickets and travel products" from its platform. Mengniu Dairy, one of the country's top milk producers, vowed to suspend "all commercial cooperation with the NBA."

      Fast-food chain Dicos also said it planned to suspend "all marketing and publicity activities" with the league, while the skin care brand Wzun said it would "terminate all cooperation with the NBA."