Chinese state TV says NBA remains barred from its airwaves because of Daryl Morey's tweet

·2 min read

If the NBA does manage to salvage its season, it won’t be broadcast in China.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV announced on Tuesday that it would continue to bar the basketball league from its airwaves “reiterating its consistent stance on national sovereignty” in a statement provided to Beijing’s Global Times.

The news counters speculation that the NBA would return to CCTV after Monday’s announcement that Michael Ma is the new CEO of NBA China. Ma is the son of Ma Guoli, one of the founders of CCTV and credited with bringing NBA games to the network in the 1990s.

Ma Guoli resigned as an adviser to the Chinese Basketball Association on Tuesday.

Why the conflict between China, NBA?

CCTV stopped airing NBA games following Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s October tweet voicing support for Hong Kong protestors in their human rights struggles against the Chinese government.

“Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong,” Morey’s tweet read.

Morey deleted the tweet after it caused an international uproar including immediate denunciation from Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta, who tweeted that Morey “does NOT speak for the Houston Rockets” and that “we are NOT a political organization.”

Daryl Morey's tweet sparked a political and financial firestorm for the NBA. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Daryl Morey's tweet sparked a political and financial firestorm for the NBA. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

What China’s accused of

China’s government stands accused of numerous human rights violations, including suppression and violence against ethnic minorities, restriction of speech and the use of torture against political dissidents.

Hong Kong protestors staging demonstrations in 2019 faced violent backlash as President Xi Jinping warned that any attempt to divide Hong Kong from China would end in bodies smashed and bones ground to powder.”

Political, financial repercussions for NBA

The incident dominated offseason NBA headlines as players and coaches like LeBron James and Steve Kerr drew criticism for not supporting Hong Kong protestors in their fight for human rights. James and Kerr are among a group of NBA figures who actively voice their opinions on social issues, but declined to support Hong Kong’s protestors as the NBA and Nike faced significant financial repercussions from losing access to the Chinese market.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in February that Morey’s tweet would cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars.

The NBA suspended its season on March 12 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and has not resumed play. The league continues to assess the possibility of completing the season and crowning a champion for 2019-20.

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