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  • This was one of the most controversial games in NBA history.

  • It wasn't because of a bad call or a player ejection.

  • It was because of a tweet.

  • We're at the NBA preseason match

  • between the Brooklyn Nets and LA Lakers in Shanghai.

  • An hour before the game,

  • we could see people handing out Chinese flags to fans.

  • It was a reminder of the politically charged events

  • that led up to the game.

  • So how exactly did the NBA manage to piss off an entire country?

  • It all started when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey

  • posted his support for the Hong Kong protests on Twitter.

  • The tweet was quickly deleted

  • but not before sparking outrage in China,

  • where the protests are viewed as an issue of sovereignty.

  • The NBA rushed out a statement distancing itself from Morey,

  • but it was roundly criticized as equivocating.

  • U.S. politicians accused the NBA of kowtowing to China

  • and restricting free speech,

  • and Chinese fans called it a non-apology.

  • For the first time in over 30 years

  • since entering the Chinese market,

  • the NBA found itself stuck

  • between Chinese and American interests.

  • Until now, the NBA has largely avoided political topics

  • in China to grow its fanbase there,

  • while in the United States,

  • the NBA has developed an image

  • as themost woke sports league

  • for allowing players to openly express their political views.

  • In the end, the NBA chose free speech.

  • The effect in China was immediate.

  • The government canceled fan events in Shanghai

  • and suspended NBA broadcasts.

  • Posters were removed,

  • sponsor booths were taken down,

  • and Rockets-related merch

  • was pulled from e-commerce sites.

  • When the players arrived at the Ritz-Carlton on Oct. 8,

  • there were only a handful of fans there to greet them.

  • And that would be a big problem for the NBA.

  • China is the NBA's largest overseas market.

  • Last season, over 490 million viewers in China

  • tuned into live broadcasts on the streaming website Tencent.

  • Basketball is one of the country's favorite sports.

  • Three hundred million people play the game in China,

  • and the NBA has built a business there worth over $4 billion.

  • According to the USC Sports Business Institute,

  • the Chinese market contributes to at least 10%

  • of the league's current revenue,

  • and it's expected to reach 20% by 2030.

  • Ironically, the team that has helped boost

  • the NBA's profile in China

  • is none other than the Houston Rockets.

  • In 2002, the Rockets recruited Yao Ming

  • as their first pick in the NBA draft.

  • He played there for eight seasons,

  • and the Rockets instantly became China's favorite team,

  • which is why Morey's tweet stung even more.

  • Here's why the issue feels so personal to many Chinese people.

  • Now, the fans are publicly threatening

  • to boycott the NBA in droves.

  • Other brands have also faced PR crises

  • because of apparent slights against the Chinese people.

  • Versace and Coach got in trouble in August

  • for some shirts that listed Hong Kong and Macau

  • separate from China.

  • And the consequences are huge.

  • No one knows that more than Dolce & Gabbana,

  • which faced a massive boycott after releasing

  • an advertisement perceived as racist.

  • The company is still paying for its slight one year on.

  • Back at the NBA game in Shanghai,

  • the stadium was still pretty full,

  • despite the controversy of the past several days.

  • Many fans didn't want to talk to us on camera

  • because they feared being doxxed by other Chinese people.

  • But in private,

  • they admitted that they didn't want to have to choose

  • between their love for the game

  • and their country.

This was one of the most controversial games in NBA history.

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How Did the NBA Piss Off an Entire Country?

  • 9 1
    林宜悉 posted on 2020/12/17
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