NBA Won’t Hold Media Availability For Rest Of China Trip

The Lakers and Nets remain on track to play the second exhibition game of their China trip on Saturday in Shenzhen, but the NBA announced today that players on both teams will no longer be required to speak to reporters before or after that game.

“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the league said in a statement, per Dave McMenamin of “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.”

The NBA reportedly cancelled pregame and postgame press conferences on Thursday in China involving Lakers and Nets players and commissioner Adam Silver at the behest of the Chinese government. But sources tell McMenamin that the league made today’s decision independently.

Although the NBA has nixed its scheduled media sessions, the Lakers and Nets are free to conduct their own media availability, a league spokesman said. However, the NBA ran its plan by players and representatives from the players’ union before making its announcement, a source tells McMenamin. So it’s unlikely that players from either team will actively seek out reporters to comment on the situation while they remain in China.

Here are more of the latest notes on the NBA/China controversy, which began when Rockets GM Daryl Morey tweeted support for protestors in Hong Kong:

  • In today’s statement, the NBA referred to its players in China being placed in a “complicated and unprecedented situation” — that’s a feeling held by many of those players, writes Ian Begley of They feel they are in tough spot because they’re going to have to talk about things that they aren’t well-versed on,” someone in touch with two players currently in China told Begley. “They thought they were here to play basketball and entertain, and it’s turned into a circus.”
  • Adam Silver spoke earlier this week about wanting to sit down with former Rockets star and current Chinese Basketball Association chairman Yao Ming, but as of Thursday, that meeting had not yet happened, writes Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. A source told Zillgitt that Yao wasn’t even in his hometown of Shanghai on Thursday when the Lakers and Nets played there.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic, who spent nearly seven years in the Grizzlies’ front office, explored the possible impact the NBA/China controversy might have on the league’s salary cap going forward, a subject we touched on yesterday. Hollinger notes that it’s tricky for teams’ cap gurus to make an accurate estimate because of the complicated math involved in incorporating international money into the league’s BRI — on top of that, those specific revenue figures aren’t widely available.
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17 thoughts on “NBA Won’t Hold Media Availability For Rest Of China Trip

  1. dimitrila

    Silver is proving to be a spineless hack. In a league that has been utterly permissive of political statements (of a certain ilk of course), Silver has equivocated on speaking about human rights issues in China because it could hurt the league’s business interests. Pathetic, unethical and unpardonable.

    • dimitrila

      You could put him in a category similar to Gary Bettman who has been steadfast in his denial of concussions in the NHL and their impact on the lives of the players he oversees.

  2. mcmillankmm

    Probably time to stop playing in China if you are going to have players, coaches and administration stop speaking their minds in China….since Silver applauds players for speaking their minds on social issues in the States

    • dimitrila

      Why would he do that? This is t about right and wrong for Silver; it’s about the business interests of the league. (See above.)

      • IslandFlava

        NBA ain’t about politics, is about entertainment & $$$, if it keeps that way we all happy, it doesn’t have to do or say what the US government has been afraid to say or do for many decades.

        • Down with OBP

          Hate to break it to you, but entertainment and $$$ is all about politics too.

    • amk3510

      They would rather support communism and throw out morals to get the profits from the Chinese market. NBA has literallt become the sellouts south park told us about

  3. lambeau gang

    I agree that Silver is handling this situation poorly, but it is a very delicate issue. If this continues to escalating (which it probably will considering China’s death grip on Hong Kong), there’s potential for this to morph into WWIII. After all, the First World War started as an argument over autonomous territories in Eastern Europe.

  4. Grant

    The only hypocrites here are the Americans bitching about morals. Silver has done nothing but try and descelate the situation hasn’t apologized and has stood up for Morey when given the chance. So many Americans whine everytime some here speaks french or spanish with the argument “learn the language or leave”. Yet these same idiots have no issue trying “to protect their values” when visiting another country. Its such a mind boggling stupid take on the issue

    • ColossusOfClout

      Grant, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this thread is now dumber for having read it.

      • Grant

        Everytime I read one of the articles on this china issue all the comments in thread bash silver and the nba for selling out American values when he literally has defended Morey and tried to calm everyone down. China is definitely being irrational in their anger but at the end of the day we are guests in their country when we visit so American values don’t matter. The argument would be completely different if we were hosting Chinese teams in this incident

    • chieflove42

      I have no idea what you are going for here. I think you may have lost the plot entirely.

  5. If the prior statements from NBA people (from Silver on down to the players) on this subject are an indication of what might follow, then cancelling media events while physically in China is the right call. This doesn’t prevent a player who wants to say something from doing it (but all won’t be compelled to answer questions on the topic at a media event).

    After they return, Silver needs to have meetings with the owners and the NBAPA and figure out if, and how, they continue doing business with China. Silver himself has complicated this decision by openly injecting the NBA into politics, under the mantra that the league was determined to be a social justice leader. It was always a little comical that the same occurred while Silver himself was doubling down on developing the league’s business relationship with China’s communist regime and its minions. But both were (so long as the curtain was closed) good for business. Now, the curtain has been pulled back, and they’re at bat.

    • chieflove42

      like all corporations the bottom line is profit. if corporate media stories (narrative) and youth demographic trends push social justice it makes sense to recieve free publicity and long term market share all while turning attention from league negatives.
      China had almost no media coverage or government coverage due to bottom line financial resources. corporations have no root principles despite what they say. when you have no root principles any wind blows you around showing the entangled mess underneath.

  6. What the Hell the Lakers are doing in China anyway! Damn silver it’s all about the money!

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