- In his first interview since returning to the US, Adam Silver clarifies a number of positions about the NBA's crisis with China
- Silver reveals that Chinese government officials asked him to fire Morey who sent out a tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters
NBA commissioner Adam Silver revealed in his first interview since returning to the United States that Chinese government officials tried to pressure him into firing Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey after he tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters.
"We were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government," said Silver, while being interviewed for the TIME 100 Health Summit in New York. "We said there's no chance that's happening. There's no chance we'll even discipline him."
Silver also clarified that they did not intend for people to misinterpret the NBA's statement that Morey's tweet was "regrettable" which was widely publicised, but that the word was in relation to their Chinese fans and China in general in response to the tweet and the damage it could do.
Hong Kong has been rocked by more than four months of increasingly violent anti-government protests, sparked by a now-withdrawn extradition bill.
Silver added the NBA is "not only willing" to cope with expected losses of millions in revenues, "but we are. The losses have already been substantial. Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we'll see what happens next".
The issue hit fever pitch last week in China when the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers were in Shanghai for a scheduled preseason game and various league activities.
The Chinese government cancelled a number of events and in turn the NBA shut down media access to its players, which extended to a game last Saturday in Shenzhen. Lakers superstar LeBron James further inflamed the row after returning home to the US when he called Morey's initial tweet "uneducated".
With a tweet, NBA firestorm engulfs three decades of work in China
James later clarified his position on Twitter and on Wednesday night Hong Kong protesters held a rally at Southorn Playground in Wan Chai where they burned James' various jerseys.
James has also received significant backlash stateside for his stance as some have viewed his words as supporting the Chinese government because of his many business interests in the country.
"I don't know where we go from here," said Silver during the TIME conference. "The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic."
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