The NBA’s controversy with China is not going away anytime soon, and the consequences from it will be far-reaching. Nor, will those far-reaching consequences be confined to the leagues front office.
Instead, those consequences will be felt by the players themselves.
Last week, in the midst of the NBA’s rift with China over a pro-democracy tweet sent by Rockets GM Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong demonstrators, Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma had planned to announce sponsorship deals with several Chinese companies.
As a result of the political controversy, Kuzma remained silent about the deals.
According to the Athletic’s Bill Oram, “Kuzma’s plans to announce additional sponsorship deals with Chinese companies were scrapped once the Lakers arrived on Tuesday and found themselves caught in the middle of a stalemate between the NBA and the Chinese government.”
Kuzma wasn’t the only player impacted by the NBA-China rift. Rockets guards Russell Westbrook and James Harden found themselves caught in an exchange between a Rockets media relations representative and a CNN reporter, when the reporter tried to ask a question about the China flap. The media relations rep interrupted the CNN reporter and shut down the question.
The NBA later apologized for the incident.
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