Commissioner Adam Silver Says NBA’s Clash With China Cost “Hundreds of Millions” of Dollars

China was upset with Rockets GM Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver speaks to the media during a press conference.
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By Luis Paez-Pumar / February 16, 2020 1:28 pm

In the middle of the 2020 All-Star festivities, commissioner Adam Silver outlined one of the harsh realities of the NBA’s business dealings with China during his annual “state of the league” press conference. Following the controversy surrounding Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters, China retreated from its strong relationship with the NBA, costing the league “hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to Silver.

Morey’s tweet, now deleted, expressed support for the pro-democracy protesters who have been demonstrating in Hong Kong since last March. China’s response was swift, with state-run television network China Central Television canceling some NBA broadcasts in the country, and Chinese sponsors like fast-food chain Dicos and skincare brand Wzun pulling out of sponsorship deals with the league. Due to the decrease in revenue, the league has already adjusted salary cap projections for next season to account for the Chinese boycott.

Silver is optimistic the damage is only temporary, however. In the same press conference, he stated as much while explaining why the sponsors pulled out:

We were taken off the air in China for a period of time, and it caused our many business partners in China to feel it was, therefore, inappropriate to have ongoing relationships with us. But I don’t have any sense that there’s any permanent damage to our business there, and as I’ve said before, we accept the consequences of our system and our values. It’s not a position any business wants to be in, but those are the results.

As outlined by the New York Times, the league has already begun making inroads back into the Chinese market, providing financial aid in light of the coronavirus outbreak currently afflicting the Asian country. So while the loss of close to $400 million hurt the league’s financial well-being, it does appear that the NBA should be back to its lucrative relationship with China sooner than later.

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Read the full story at the New York Times

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