Tweet causes a China crisis for the NBA

The NBA's ties with China are in meltdown over a tweet posted by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of  the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

It has been reported that all of the league's official partners in China have suspended their ties as part of a nationwide backlash to the Twitter post. Those businesses included CTrip, China's biggest online travel website, and the Chinese fast-food chain Dicos.

This weeks NBA China Games contests between the LA Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai today (Thursday) and Shenzen on Saturday have been blacked out on Chinese TV and may be canceled.   

In the since-deleted tweet, Morey posted the symbol of Stand With Hong Kong, an activist group that has been behind calls for foreign government intervention.

The tweet prompted backlash from Chinese social-media users, and the Chinese Basketball Association announced on Sunday that it was halting cooperation with the Rockets in response to the tweet.

Several of the team's sponsors and partners in China, including the state broadcaster China Central Television and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports, announced on Sunday that they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.

Government-run CCTV announced on Tuesday that not only would it be canceling its plans to broadcast the Lakers v Nets matches, but it was also immediately investigate all cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA

Chinese smartphone brand Vivo, which was the presenting partner of the leagues upcoming games in China, took to the Weibo social media platform to announce it was suspending links with the NBA.

Anta Sports Products, who have a shoe deal with Golden State Warriors point guard Klay Thompson said on Weibo that it was suspending contract negotiations with the NBA.

Even the NBA store near Tiananmen Square was reported to have replaced items from the Houston Rockets with merchandise from other teams, while China's leading e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba's Taobao, and Pinduoduo, had blocked products related to the Rockets. 

The NBA and the Nets were scheduled to dedicate a new Learn and Play Center at a primary school in Shanghai as part of the leagues NBA Cares program. The event was canceled by the Education Bureau.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defied pressure from the Chinese government, businesses and fans to punish Morey, insisting the league will not censor the views of its players, officials and owners.

He said in a statement: Over the last three decades, the NBA has developed a great affinity for the people of China. We have seen how basketball can be an important form of people-to-people exchange that deepens ties between the United States and China.
At the same time, we recognize that our two countries have different political systems and beliefs. And like many global brands, we bring our business to places with different political systems around the world.

It is inevitable that people around the world - including from America and China - will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences. 

"However, 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. 
"We simply could not operate that way. Basketball runs deep in the hearts and minds of our two peoples. At a time when divides between nations grow deeper and wider, we believe sports can be a unifying force that focuses on what we have in common as human beings rather than our differences.?