Ian Begley, SNY.tv | Twitter |
Nets center DeAndre Jordan didn't want to comment on the international controversy between the NBA, the Chinese government, the Houston Rockets and Houston GM Daryl Morey.
"It was unfortunate that the events were cancelled today but we're not experts in that field," Jordan said on ESPN's The Jump on Tuesday from China, where the Nets are scheduled to play the Lakers. "The field that we are experts in is basketball. We wanted to come here to play basketball and see all our fans in China."
Another player in China told a friend that "this is just awkward for us" in referencing the unfolding controversy between the league and the country.
Jordan's comments came after the latest development in the story: Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said in a statement that it won't broadcast two NBA preseason games set to be played in the country between the Nets and Lakers.
In the statement, CCTV suggested that it was taking action in the wake of previous comments NBA commissioner Adam Silver made in support of Morey.
"We're strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver's claim to support Morey's right to freedom of expression," the statement read. "We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech."
Morey's tweet in support of the protests in Hong Kong with the phrase: "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." He deleted the post and posted a tweet backtracking after Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said that Houston does not take political positions.
The NBA has issued two statements on the matter. The first was criticized by several U.S. politicians, who admonished the NBA for its lack of support for Morey.
The NBA has a significant amount of business in China and seems to, in part, be attempting to quell any ill feelings in the country that could threaten that business.
In his second statement, Silver pushed back on the idea that the league was motivated solely by business interests.
Here is the statement from Silver:
"I recognize our initial statement left people angered, confused or unclear on who we are or what the NBA stands for. Let me be more clear.
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.
But for those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business.
Values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA - and will continue to do so. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game.
In fact, one of the enduring strengths of the NBA is our diversity - of views, backgrounds, ethnicities, genders and religions. Twenty-five percent of NBA players were born outside of the United States and our colleagues work in league offices around the world, including in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Taipei.
With that diversity comes the belief that whatever our differences, we respect and value each other; and, what we have in common, including a belief in the power of sports to make a difference, remains our bedrock principle.
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."
In a press conference earlier Thursday, Silver clarified to say that the league wasn't apologizing for Morey exercising his freedom of expression. He also said of the Chinese fans that are upset over Morey's tweet, "I regret that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans."
Here is more information on the Hong Kong protests.
Here is more information about the NBA's business in China. In addition to CCTV pulling away from televising games, sponsors of the games have canceled their partnerships.