Pedestrians walk near the largest NBA store outside of North America in Beijing, China, on April 19. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 8 (UPI) -- China state television CCTV and Tencent, the NBA's Chinese digital partner, stopped broadcasting the league's preseason basketball games Tuesday amid fallout from the Houston Rockets general manager's remarks that supported Hong Kong protesters.
CCTV went a step further, saying it will "immediately investigate all co-operation and exchanges involving the NBA."
The escalation followed NBA Commissioner Adam Silver's defense of Houston GM Daryl Morey, who tweeted support last weekend for the Hong Kong protesters who are involved in an ongoing feud with Beijing.
"I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact, we have," Silver told Kyodo News Monday. "I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear... that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression."
NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass tried to walk a diplomatic tightrope in the league's official response to Morey's tweet.
"We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable," he said.
"We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together."
CCTV acknowledged the commissioner's response in its decision to stop broadcasting preseason games.
"We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Silver's stated support of Morey's right to free speech," the broadcaster said. "We believe any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability do not belong to the category of free speech."
Some on social media in China have advocated a boycott ahead of games this week between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai.