SHANGHAI – The NBA will complete its trip to China in silence.
Saturday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets to end this year’s NBA China Games series will be played as scheduled in Shenzhen, though there will be no news conferences for players or coaches before or after that contest.
The NBA came to that conclusion after talking with the teams and the National Basketball Players Association about what would be best for players.
“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA said. “They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time.”
On Thursday, it was the Chinese that stopped NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the teams from holding news conferences before or after the Lakers-Nets game in Shanghai. That was part of the Chinese response to the rift that started when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong and intensified when Silver defended Morey’s right to exercise free speech.
This time, it was the NBA’s call. The game in Shenzhen has been a hot ticket since the matchup was announced, and just as was the case in Shanghai on Thursday a full arena is expected on Saturday.
“I think whoever bought the ticket needs to attend the game. After all, it is just a sport. An entertainment in fact,” Chinese fan Lao Zhang said in Shenzhen on Friday. “The bottom line is the two countries respect each other. We have the choice to like NBA players or not, meanwhile, NBA should respect China. Only by this way, NBA would have more fans and a bigger market in China.”
Under normal circumstances, the Lakers and Nets may have spoken Friday in advance of the game.
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