The National Basketball Association has canceled all press conferences and media availability for the duration of their China trip, to avoid putting their players in “complicated” and “unfair” situations.
The Chinese government canceled all media availability prior to Thursday’s game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. While the Nets and Lakers are still scheduled to play each other in Shenzen again on Saturday, the league has decided to self-enforce the Chinese Communist Party’s policy and continue the silence.
“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA announced in a statement Friday. “They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time.”
“The league is making this decision independent of Chinese authorities, sources told ESPN.”
According to ESPN:
Nets and Lakers players are free to comment on the circumstances without NBA retribution, according to a league spokesman. However, this media policy was already discussed with players and representatives from the players’ association, according to a league source, so the motivation to operate outside of the league’s guidelines is negligible.
The NBA’s forced silence should not come as a surprise. Saturday’s game between the Nets and Lakers will take place only 20 miles from Hong Kong. The close proximity, would likely have lead to an increase in media questions relating to the political situation between Hong Kong and China.
On Thursday, the NBA landed in hot water after a Rockets media relations representative shut down a CNN reporter’s question to a pair of Rockets players about the political situation in China. That episode, in addition to their strong desire to avoid further angering their communist hosts, likely factored into the league’s decision.
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