TOKYO, Japan — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says he's still planning to go to China on Wednesday in advance of preseason games there between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets later in the week.
Silver also says the league is "apologetic" over the outcome and reaction that followed Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's tweet showing support for protesters in Hong Kong, but will continue to back Morey's right to freedom of expression.
Silver says, "we are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression." He added that he "regrets" how so many Chinese people and NBA fans were upset by the since-deleted tweet.
Silver says it would be appropriate for people involved with the league "to be sensitive" to different cultures when tweeting or communicating. He spoke in Tokyo before a preseason game between the NBA champion Toronto Raptors and the Rockets — the team at the center of this China squabble.
Silver says the league "will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues."
Silver's statement was sent out shortly before he was to hold a news conference in Tokyo.
Silver says "it is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences."
Silver also responded to those criticizing the league's approach over the last several days, including some U.S. lawmakers.
He says, "this is about far more than growing our business. ... Values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA – and will continue to do so. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game."
Chinese state broadcaster CCTV says it will no longer air two NBA preseason games set to be played in the country.
In a statement, CCTV indicated the decision was prompted by Silver's remarks in Japan.
The broadcaster is also reviewing all its cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA, said the statement posted to CCTV Sports' official social media account.
CCTV says, "we're strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver's claim to support Morey's right to freedom of expression."
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