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Lakers’ trip to China filled with uncertainty as NBA controversy unravels

first_img Lakers, Clippers schedules set for first round of NBA playoffs AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersFor the Lakers, the consequences could have an immediate impact. ESPN reported that the Chinese Education Bureau had canceled an NBA Cares event in which the Brooklyn Nets were to dedicate a play center at a Shanghai school. The Lakers’ community event scheduled for Wednesday was canceled late Tuesday night PT, and there has been speculation as to whether the two exhibition games between the Lakers and Nets scheduled for Thursday (in Shanghai) and Saturday (in Shenzhen) will even take place.An NBA spokesman told The Orange County Register early Tuesday afternoon that no other cancellations were anticipated but acknowledged plans could change. Silver said the Tuesday event with the Nets was “ceremonial” in nature, and he hoped nothing else would be stricken from the itinerary.The pot started boiling over the weekend as Morey tweeted in support of protesters in Hong Kong, who are engaged in a months-long standoff with the mainland government over a proposed extradition law. The fallout was swift as Chinese businesses and officials – even former Rockets All-Star and current Chinese Basketball commissioner Yao Ming – condemned Morey, and others in the Rockets organization tried to apologize on Morey’s behalf.The NBA issued a statement from Silver shortly before his Tuesday press conference in Tokyo with more vigorous support of Morey’s self-expression.“The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues,” he said. “We simply could not operate that way.” At the same time, it’s clear Silver and the league will have a lot to do to mend fences with Chinese partners. The country, in which an estimated half a billion people watched some portion of NBA programming last year, is an important economic partner to the league, and many players have economic interests there. In addition to superstars like LeBron James who travel to China annually, Rajon Rondo, for example, has a signature shoe deal with Chinese company Anta that reportedly includes an ownership stake.Silver seemed committed to finding the nuance of the situation. Planning to attend the NBA China Games after his trip to Tokyo for NBA events in Japan, the commissioner pointed to discussions ahead with partners, including Yao, to try to find common ground and continue the league’s outreach into China.Related Articles A tense press conference in Tokyo involving NBA commissioner Adam Silver provided backing for Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets who embroiled his team and the league into conflict with China with just a tweet.But while defending Morey’s right to expression, Silver cast a grim vision of what that could cost the NBA – and by extension, the Lakers, who are in limbo in Shanghai.“What I also tried to suggest is I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech,” he said. “We will have to live with those consequences.”In a flurry of developments since the weekend, the consequences already include profound commercial impact: China’s state-run television network CCTV will halt broadcasts of NBA preseason games, including the ones being played in the country this week, and several media and advertising partners are vowing to blacklist the Rockets (one of the most popular franchises in the country). Lakers practice early hoping to answer all questions “It’s my hope that when I’m in Shanghai, I can meet with the appropriate officials and discuss where we stand, and again, put those remarks from Daryl Morey and my remarks in an appropriate context of a many-decades-long relationship and see if we can find mutual respect for each other’s political systems and beliefs,” he said. “But I’m a realist as well, and I recognize that this issue may not die down so quickly.”The nuance of American values expressed about Chinese political controversy seemed to be lost in other quarters. CBS reported that CCTV pledged to weigh whether it will continue its relationship with the NBA.“We are strongly dissatisfied and opposed Adam (Silver)’s claim to support Morey’s rights of free expression,” the statement said. “We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech.”One of Silver’s closing thoughts in his statement was how he hoped basketball could be a “unifying force” for the divided peoples of the world. Love of the game might be the only thing both sides of the aisle have in common at the moment.center_img How athletes protesting the national anthem has evolved over 17 years Trail Blazers beat Grizzlies in play-in, earn first-round series with the Lakers Trail Blazers, Grizzlies advance to NBA play-in game; Suns, Spurs see playoff dreams dashed Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

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