Fallout continues between China and the National Basketball Association following a since-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting the recent anti-government protests in Hong Kong.
Chinese organizers on Wednesday cancelled a fan event on the eve of an NBA exhibition game in Shanghai between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers.
The Shanghai Sports Federation said the cancellation was due to the "inappropriate attitude" of Morey and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
Huge banners advertising the game were also taken down and a Wednesday afternoon press conference with both teams was delayed indefinitely.
(NAT POP)(ENGLISH) UNIDENTIFIED NBA SPOKESPERSON, SAYING: "Today's media availability had been postponed, thank you." This comes after state broadcaster and tech giant Tencent refused to air or stream exhibition games set for this week.
Chinese sponsors also pulled out, threatening the NBA’s business there, said to be worth more than $4 billion.
Morey has since apologized for the tweet, but NBA commissioner Silver on Tuesday defended the league's right to free speech, further angering Chinese authorities.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) NBA COMMISSIONER, ADAM SILVER, SAYING: "The long held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and certainly freedoms of expression by the NBA community, and in this case Daryl Morey as the General Manager of the Houston Rockets enjoys that right as one of our employees.” NBA fans in Hong Kong backing Silver's position.
(SOUNDBITE) (ENGLISH) HONG KONG RESIDENT AND BASKETBALL FAN, KEITH YUEN, SAYING: "I don't think he (NBA Commissioner Adam Silver) is mixing up sports and politics.
I think he was speaking as a U.S. citizen on this occasion.
I'm really grateful for his support and the support of the majority of the U.S. citizens." Basketball is the most popular sport in China, with about 500 million people consuming NBA content.