3. 🇨🇳 China dials back the outrage
"After three days of fanning nationalistic outrage, the Chinese government abruptly moved on Thursday to tamp down public anger at the NBA as concerns spread in Beijing that the rhetoric was damaging China's interests and image around the world," the New York Times reports.
- "The government is already in a bruising trade war with the United States, and a backlash against China could hurt its image in the sporting world ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics near Beijing."
- "The dispute with the NBA was also quickly politicizing an audience of sports fans who would not normally focus on issues like the protests in Hong Kong."
Meanwhile, in Japan: Following the Rockets' preseason win over the Raptors, a CNN reporter asked Russell Westbrook and James Harden the following question:
"The NBA has always been a league that prides itself on its players and its coaches being able to speak out openly about political and societal affairs. I just wonder after the events of this week and the fallout we've seen, whether you both feel differently about speaking out in that way in the future."
The response: There wasn't one. A Rockets employee interjected to prevent Westbrook and Harden from answering the question — something the NBA has since apologize for, saying the employee acted "inappropriately."
P.S. ... Oh yeah, the Lakers and Nets played a preseason game in Shanghai. Regular basketball things happened, but it was far from normal. Also, the NBA has cut off all media access to players for the remainder of the trip.