SHOWS: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES. (OCTOBER 17, 2019)(TIME 100 HEALTH SUMMIT- Broadcasters and Digital: NO ARCHIVE USE/NO RESALES)
1.(SOUNDBITE)(English) NBA COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER SAYING:
"We've been on air with CCTV in China for over 30 years and last season over 600 million people watched a portion of an NBA game. So the regrettable notion was that we had upset our fans. I didn't think at that time, while we were saying we were regretting that we upset our fans, that also at the same time supporting Daryl Morey's right to express himself, right to tweet. Obviously we were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties were dealt with, government and business, we said there's no chance that's happening, there's no chance we'll even discipline him. So in that context, I was saying on one hand we were supporting free expression, but, again, maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat in saying that we understand though, by the way not the government, there was no regret directed toward the government, to our fans, as I said, hundreds of millions of them in China, subsequently, 'cause I saw, that in my mind that was being misinterpreted, we wanted to make an absolute clear statement
that the values of the NBA, these American values, we are an American business, travel with us wherever we go, and one of those values is free expression, and we wanted to make sure that everyone understood we were supporting free expression and also making clear that the Chinese people, again, less about the government, but our Chinese fans understood that providing a platform for freedom of expression is different than adjudicating a particular point of view, and so I didn't see it as my role as commissioner of the NBA to weigh-in on the substance of the protest but to say here is this platform, and in fact Jo Tsai, the new owner of the Brooklyn Nets here in New York, also wrote a piece in which he wanted to give a Chinese perspective on how they saw the activities in Hong Kong and I thought that's perfectly appropriate too."
2. (SOUNDBITE)(English) INTERVIEWER ROBIN ROBERTS SAYING:
"In taking your stance and being supportive you and the league, are you willing to absorb the possible loss that may come, financial loss that may come from this support?"
3. (SOUNDBITE)(English) NBA COMMISSIONER ADAM SILVER SAYING:
"Not only willing but are, the losses have already been substantial. Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak and we'll see what happens next."
STORY: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said on Thursday (October 17) that the fallout following a tweet from a Houston Rockets official who backed the Hong Kong democracy protests has already cost the league substantial financial losses in China.
The National Basketball Association spent years building a huge following and burgeoning business in China, a market worth an estimated $4 billion for the league, but its future in the country is suddenly on shaky ground.
The controversy began this month after Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the pro-democracy demonstrators in a since-deleted post that included an image captioned: "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong."
In the aftermath of Morey's tweet, China did not broadcast or stream the two preseason games that were held in the country between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets while the NBA canceled many player appearances.
"Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak," Silver said in his first public appearance since returning from his recent trip to Asia.
Silver also said the Chinese government has asked that Morey, who was named the NBA's executive of the year in 2018, be fired for the tweet.
"We said there's no chance that's happening," said Silver, who has previously stated the league would not apologize for Morey expressing his freedom of expression. "There's no chance we'll even discipline him."