NBA cancels all media availability in China ahead of Lakers-Nets finale

Cassandra Negley

The NBA is continuing its temporary policy as the league attempts to conclude its trip to China in a quiet manner.

The game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers is set to go on as scheduled in Shenzhen on Saturday, but all media availability around it will not.

"We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China," the NBA announced in a statement Friday, per ESPN. "They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time."

ESPN reported via sources the decision was made “independent of Chinese authorities.

The NBA canceled media availability ahead of Thursday’s game in Shanghai, which the Nets won, 114-111, over the Lakers. The game was only allowed to happen if the NBA canceled all media opportunities as mandated by the Chinese government. Commissioner Adam Silver’s much-anticipated press conference was nixed as well as NBA Cares events that included press opportunities and fan gatherings with ticket-holders.

Meanwhile, in Japan, Houston Rockets PR awkwardly refused to allow James Harden to answer a reporter’s question about if he would refrain from speaking on politics and social justice given the China situation. The league issued a statement saying the representative “inappropriately interjected” and it was “inconsistent with how the NBA conducts media events.”

Now, the NBA simply won’t conduct media events.

The situation takes on a new wrinkle this weekend because Shenzhen is approximately a 27-mile drive from Hong Kong. It’s been one week since Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, creating a disaster that keeps unrolling though it did bring politicians together on the same side in Washington.

SHANGHAI, CHINA - OCTOBER 10:  LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts during a preseason game against the Brooklyn Nets as part of 2019 NBA Global Games China at Mercedes-Benz Arena on October 10, 2019 in Shanghai, China. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
LeBron James won't be talking to media in China, nor will any other NBA players or executives. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

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