The NBA Cares event in Shanghai involving the Los Angeles Lakers was canceled Wednesday just hours before it was scheduled to begin, adding to the fallout from a recent tweet by Rockets GM Daryl Morey that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
The NBA would only say that calling off the event, which was supposed to benefit the Special Olympics, was not its decision.
On Tuesday, an NBA Cares event with the Nets at an education center in Shanghai was canceled by the Chinese government. NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would still donate computers to the center.
The Lakers proceeded with a practice Wednesday that was closed to the media, a team source told ESPN. The Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are scheduled to play the first of two preseason games in the country Thursday. Silver is expected to address both teams later on Wednesday.
Silver, speaking in Japan on Tuesday, said he and the league are “apologetic” over the outcome and reaction that followed Morey’s tweet, but he noted that “we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.”
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it will no longer air the two preseason games. CCTV is also reviewing all of its cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA, it said in a statement posted to CCTV Sports’ official social media account.
The broadcaster indicated the decision was prompted by earlier remarks Silver made in Japan.
“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” the statement read. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.