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NBA-China feud: China partners suspend ties over Daryl Morey tweet

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  • All of the NBA’s official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league as the firestorm over an executive’s tweet in support of Hong Kong continues to escalate. 
  • The feud between China and the NBA began on Sunday, after Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted support for the protests in Hong Kong.
  • In the days that followed, the Chinese Basketball Association, broadcasters CCTV and Tencent, and retail sponsors pulled their support for the Rockets. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

All of the NBA’s official Chinese partners have suspended ties with the league as the firestorm over an executive’s tweet in support of Hong Kong continues to escalate. 

All of the companies on the NBA’s list of wholly-owned Chinese sponsors suspended ties with the league on Wednesday, according to CNN Business. Those businesses included CTrip, China’s biggest online travel website, and Chinese fast-food chain Dicos.

The feud between China and the NBA began on Sunday, after Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted support for the protests in Hong Kong.

In the since-deleted tweet, Morey posted the symbol of Stand With Hong Kong, an activist group that has been behind calls for foreign government intervention in Hong Kong.

The tweet prompted backlash from Chinese social media users, and the Chinese Basketball Association – which represents China in the International Basketball Federation — announced on Sunday that it was halting cooperation with the Rockets in response to the tweet. 

Several of the team’s sponsors and partners in China, including the state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports, announced on Sunday that they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told Japanese news outlet Kyodo that there has already been “economic impact” as a result of Morey’s tweet. He later said in a statement that the league would not censor its employees. 

“The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say,” Silver said in the statement. “We simply could not operate that way.”

Activists hold up a sign before an NBA exhibition basketball game between the Washington Wizards and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Activists hold up a sign before an NBA exhibition basketball game between the Washington Wizards and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions, Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Associated Press


Read more: The NBA has already felt ‘economic impact’ from Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet — Here all the moves that have been made by China

In response to Silver’s comments, CCTV and Tencent announced they would suspend broadcasts of the NBA’s preseason matches.

On Wednesday, promotional material for a preseason game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers was removed from buildings across Shanghai. 

Meet and greets and media events were also postponed, an NBA spokeswoman said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The spokeswoman told the Journal that she had no clear information on whether Thursday’s game would take place. 

NBA fans have also been speaking out about the escalating feud, brandishing posters and t-shirts in support of Hong Kong. 

On Wednesday, former NBA all-star Dennis Rodman urged the league to hire him as an ambassador in order to smooth out the feud with China.

Rodman has developed a relationship with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and used basketball as a medium to try and quell tensions between North Korea and the US.

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