NBA chief: China controversy caused 'substantial' losses for league

NBA chief: China controversy caused 'substantial' losses for league
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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that the league has suffered “substantial” financial losses in the wake of its China controversy.

Silver said during a Thursday interview that “the financial consequences” of China’s backlash “have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”

“I don’t know where we go from here,” Silver said Thursday at the Time Health 100 Summit in New York. “Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we’ll see what happens next.”

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Silver’s remarks come as the NBA faces criticism over its handling of a now-deleted tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing solidarity with pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.

Morey’s tweet infuriated the Chinese government and millions of the NBA’s fans in the country. Chinese state television has refused to air NBA games, and a slew of Chinese businesses have blacklisted or cut ties with the league.

The NBA also took heat from U.S. politicians after issuing a statement expressing regrets to any offended Chinese fans, and another statement in Mandarin condemning Morey. The backlash was bipartisan as lawmakers accused the NBA of pushing profits over principles and yielding to Chinese censorship.

Silver later strengthened his response to China, insisting the NBA would always promote and stand for free expression. The commissioner said Thursday that he found criticism of his actions “confusing,” adding that he “thought we’d taken a principled position.”

“Maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat,” Silver said. “I didn’t see it as my role as the commissioner of the NBA to weigh in on the substance of the protest, but to say here’s this platform.”

While the NBA bore the brunt of Washington, D.C.’s anger, the White House and Congress have ramped up their warnings over a feared Chinese crackdown on Hong Kong demonstrators.

The Chinese government threatened to respond with “strong countermeasures” if the Senate approves House-passed legislation to condemn Beijing’s treatment of Hong Kong.