Two charity events and another for NBA fans in China have been canceled amid reported growing concerns that this week's preseason games between the Nets and Lakers might also be called off as fallout continues from Rockets GM Daryl Morey's since-deleted tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
Two NBA Cares events, one Tuesday involving the Nets at an education center and another Wednesday with the Lakers to benefit Special Olympics, were canceled. The fan event also was scheduled for Wednesday but was canceled.
The league would only say that canceling the events was not its decision.
The NBA subsequently postponed the Lakers' and Nets' scheduled media sessions Wednesday in Shanghai, citing the "fluidity of the situation," according to The Associated Press, which noted that "it remains unclear if the teams will play in China this week as scheduled."
Commissioner Adam Silver, speaking Tuesday in Tokyo, said he and the NBA are "apologetic" over the effects of Morey's tweet, but he noted that "we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression," a remark that left state-run broadcaster CCTV "strongly dissatisfied."
Ahead of the first of two scheduled preseason games against the Nets on Thursday in Shanghai, the Lakers went ahead Wednesday with a practice closed to the media, an unidentified team source told ESPN. The Nets also practiced Wednesday, The AP reported.
The teams are scheduled to play again Saturday in Shenzhen, but The New York Times reported early Wednesday that there are "growing fears" that the Chinese government will cancel the games, too.
Per the Times' Marc Stein:
"In discussions I’ve had over the past few days with a number of well-placed observers, who are familiar with both the Chinese landscape and N.B.A. dealings, there are growing fears that government officials will cancel the two games. Various sponsors, media outlets and the Chinese Basketball Association itself — led by the former Rockets great Yao Ming — have already vowed to have nothing to do with the Rockets for the foreseeable future.
"Silver is scheduled to arrive in China on Wednesday to begin face-to-face damage control with some of the aggrieved entities. Among them is Yao himself; Silver has acknowledged that the Hall of Fame center is 'extremely' angry.
"'And I understand it,' Silver said."
In response to Silver's remarks in Japan, CCTV announced that it would not carry the two games in China and also is reviewing all of its dealings with the NBA.
Meanwhile, videos posted to social media appeared to show workers taking down banners promoting the games and NBA in China.
get out of China! fxxk off NBA pic.twitter.com/EniKgsfZuj
— philiplin2000 (@philiplin2000) October 8, 2019
Silver was expected to arrive in the country later Wednesday and address both teams as frustrations mounted among players, according to ESPN, which added "no one knows if Thursday's Lakers-Nets game is really going to happen."
The latest from Shanghai - players are getting frustrated, and no one knows if Thursday's Lakers-Nets game is really going to happen. pic.twitter.com/qsH7lCG97x
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 9, 2019
“I’m a realist, as well,” Silver said at his Tokyo news conference. “And I recognize that this issue may not die down so quickly.”