Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019
In response to the NBA defending Daryl Morey's freedom of speech, Chinese officials took it away from the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
All of the usual media sessions surrounding the Lakers-Nets preseason game in Shanghai on Thursday — including a scheduled news conference from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and postgame news conferences with the teams — were canceled. It was the latest salvo in the rift between the league and China stemming from a since-deleted tweet posted last week by Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets.
"There will be no media availabilities for tonight's game between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers," the NBA said in a statement Thursday, released a few hours before the game.
The game was held as scheduled, with Lakers forward LeBron James and Nets guard Kyrie Irving getting loud ovations when they were introduced as starters. But neither national anthem was played before the game, and no players addressed the crowd before tip-off in a departure from tradition before such international games. Fans arriving at the arena to watch — many of them donning NBA jerseys — were handed small Chinese flags to carry with them inside, and at least one person carried a sign critical of Silver.
The Nets won, 114-111. James walked off with his arms held high, acknowledging cheers from the crowd. He flicked his wristbands toward fans clamoring for a souvenir and tossed his headband into the seats before entering the walkway leading to the Lakers' locker room.
He was seen and not heard, just like everyone else on the rosters.
"I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech," Silver said at a news conference in Tokyo earlier this week. "We will have to live with those consequences."
And this move was one of those consequences.