Mar 31, 2022 - Sports

China resumes airing NBA basketball after 2-year blackout

An NBA-Wilson exhibit in Shanghai

A visitor looks at an NBA-Wilson exhibit in Shangai, China. Photo: Zhang Hengwei/China News Service via Getty Images

China's state-run TV network will resume airing NBA games after a blackout that has stretched since 2019, an NBA spokesperson confirmed to Axios.

Driving the news: The network CCTV has not televised NBA games in China consistently since October 2019, after then-Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image supporting protests in Hong Kong.

  • The first game broadcast in the return was Tuesday night's matchup between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz, per the New York Times.

The big picture: The NBA had viewed China as a key to international growth, per Axios' Kendall Baker.

  • Yes, but: Many accused the league of hypocrisy for its business interests in the country. The NBA has positioned itself as the most progressive of the major American sports leagues by supporting social activism and letting players have their own voice.
  • The U.S. has determined that China's campaign of mass internment, forced labor and forced sterilization of over 1 million Muslim minorities in Xinjiang constitutes "genocide" and "crimes against humanity."

The Chinese Government, the Chinese Basketball Association and several Chinese businesses severed ties with the NBA in the fallout Morey's tweet.

Of note: There have been temporary returns, including during the 2020 NBA Finals.

What they're saying: NBA games have aired in China continuously for nearly 35 years, including this season on a number of other services," wrote NBA spokesperson Mike Bass in an emailed statement to Axios.

  • "We believe broadcasting games to our fans in China and more than 200 other countries and territories is consistent with our mission to inspire and connect people everywhere through the game of basketball."
  • "We have always supported and will continue to support members of the NBA family expressing their views on social and political issues," Bass wrote.
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