Officials in Beijing immediately banned all Boston Celtics games from the Chinese internet this week after an athlete posted pro-Tibet comments on social media.
Celtics center Enes Kanter described the country’s leader Xi Jinping as a “brutal dictator” for his treatment of Tibet and other ethnic minorities in China.
“The incident could spell fresh trouble for the N.B.A. in China. The league has millions of devoted fans there but has also just spent two years mending its image in the country after a Houston Rockets executive tweeted support in 2019 for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong,” reports the New York Times.
“It’s unclear whether we’ll be back on CCTV television in China this year,” Adam Silver, the commissioner of the N.B.A., told reporters. “Our projections are not dependent on it. I will say we’ve been back on Tencent, the streaming service in China, for some time now, and will be when the season starts.”
“Silver has been steadfast in saying that he hoped that the rift between the N.B.A. and China would heal, citing cultural benefits. There are also financial benefits for the league, a notion that lawmakers in the United States, particularly conservatives, have attacked the N.B.A. over,” adds the newspaper.