NBA China Issue: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the league’s relationship with China in a press conference Tuesday night before Game 1 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Silver said it was important to foster the relationships the league has built but made clear the league wasn’t “blessing” everything the Chinese government does.
“It’s hard to divorce what’s happening with the NBA from larger geopolitical issues between the U.S. and China. I do think it remains important, that particularly when tensions are high between governments, that we foster these sports, educational, cultural relationships…,” he said, via Pro Basketball Talk.
NBA’s Adam Silver on one lesson learned from the current difficulties with China: “We will only have so-called approved translations. Of all the issues that we were dealing with, there was absolutely no uncertainty in terms of what my words were in English.” #SBJDEALMAKERS pic.twitter.com/jLQZmr9HZu
— Sports Business Journal (@sbjsbd) December 4, 2019
“It certainly doesn’t mean that we are blessing everything that happens in China by any means. We are at root an American company, and so we follow U.S. government policy. But it’s my expectation that we will continue to distribute our games in China… and that we can play a productive role in helping the people of the United States and the people of China have a better understanding of each other, and see that we’re all human beings and that there is a commonality between us.”
NBA China Issue: What happened exactly?
The controversy around NBA’s relationship with China rose last season when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters.
Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
The tweet kicked off controversy to start the 2019-20 season with China pulled off ads showcasing preseason NBA games in the country. Tencent, the digital media partner of the NBA in China since 2009, also put a cessation to showing NBA games for a period of time.
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 MorΞy 🗽🏀 (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
NBA China Issue: Fred VanVleet signed for Chinese Bran Li-Ning
Toronto Raptors star Fred VanVleet will join CJ McCollum and D’Angelo Russell to partner up with the Chinese brand Li-Ning. VanVleet is one of the top free agents this season and while many speculate if he will stay in the Toronto Raptors or not, he is set to sign a deal with Li-Ning.
Last year VanVleet had signed to become the face of the AND1 brand. The deal that only lasted one year is set to be terminated in the coming days.
D’Angelo Russell signed with the brand last season and wears models from Dwayne Wade’s “Way of Wade” line. Wade is still the brand’s most prolific athlete, as his deal with Li-Ning continues even after he has retired.