Mainland Media Slam NBA's 'about Face' On HK

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2019-10-09 HKT 14:07

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  • Workers dismantle signage for an NBA event that was planned in Shanghai. Photo: AP

    Workers dismantle signage for an NBA event that was planned in Shanghai. Photo: AP

Mainland media have slammed the NBA for an "about-face" after the body said it would not apologise for a tweet by the Houston Rockets general manager supporting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The US league has drawn fire for from Chinese broadcasters, sponsors and social media after Daryl Morey tweeted a message on Friday saying "Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."

Despite originally calling Morey's tweet "regrettable", at a press conference in Tokyo Tuesday NBA commissioner Adam Silver insisted that the league would not apologise and would "support freedom of expression".

In an editorial, the state-run China Daily accused the NBA of a U-turn and said Silver's remarks showed the league's earlier "honey-mouthed" statements had been "nothing but an attempt to prevent the haemorrhaging of profits made in China".

It added that "Silver's about face, which will definitely give a shot to the arms of the rioters in Hong Kong, shows his organization is willing to be another handy tool for US interference in the special administrative region".

Beijing has often accused foreign forces of fuelling the unrest in Hong Kong.

An editorial in the nationalistic Global Times also blasted the NBA for bowing to "political correctness in the US", saying there was now "little room for reconciliation" as the issue had escalated into a clash of values between China and the US.

Silver "will only offend more people no matter what he tries to say", the tabloid said.

The NBA commissioner said he hoped to discuss the situation with Chinese officials in Shanghai, where the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are set to play an exhibition game on Thursday.

But a day after the NBA cancelled a Nets publicity event in the city, NBA representatives said that it had scrapped a similar public event involving the Lakers on Wednesday.

Separate training sessions by the teams on Wednesday that media had been invited to were also abruptly declared closed.

Crews at Shanghai's Mercedes-Benz arena, where the Nets and Lakers were to tip-off, were seen Wednesday morning removing the logos of the NBA, Nets, Lakers, and corporate sponsors from lamp-posts and walls in the area.

Speculation has grown in the US that the games themselves – another is to be held in Shenzhen on Saturday – could be cancelled. (AFP)