HOUSTON – China state television said Tuesday it will suspend broadcasts of the NBA’s preseason games.
The move by CCTV came as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver tried to clarify earlier statements by the organization about a now-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that supported protesters in Hong Kong.
In a news conference Tuesday morning, Silver said the NBA supports freedom of expression but understands there are consequences for the exercise of that right.
“We will have to live with those consequences,” Silver said. “My hope is that for our Chinese fans and our partners in China that they will see those remarks in the context of now a three-decade or longer relationship.”
Officials at CCTV issued the following written statement about the broadcaster’s decision to stop airing NBA games in China:
“We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silvers's claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.”
The broadcaster said it will also investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA.
Silver said he still plans to travel to Shanghai for Thursday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and New York Nets. He said he plans to meet with the appropriate officials during his visit.
The fallout started after Morey tweeted Sunday, “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” After the tweet was deleted, Morey posted a statement saying he did not intend to cause any offense to Rockets fans or his friends in China.
“I was merely voicing one though, based on one interpretation of one complicated event,” Morey said in the statement. He ended it by writing, “My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly said Morey does not speak for the Rockets.