Amid rift with China, will the NBA be forced to apologize?

Amid rift with China, will the NBA be forced to apologize?


When major corporations have done something to anger Chinese authorities in recent years, the playbook has called for one thing: an apology.

Marriott issued one. So did Delta. Mercedes-Benz, too.

The NBA, embroiled in a rift caused by a tweet expressing support for pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong, has avoided going that route — for now. But with billions at stake from things like merchandise sales and media rights, some experts are wondering if anything other than an apology from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will mend this fence, especially with the Chinese indicating that is what they want.

"I think that Commissioner Silver might have to do what everyone in our country doesn't want him to have to do," said Windy Dees, a sports marketing expert at the University of Miami. "He may have to say, 'I understand that your government, your political system, your culture, your ideologies are different than ours and we shouldn't push our beliefs on you.'"

"And that's exactly what Americans and NBA fans don't want to see their commissioner say," Dees added.

Silver has chosen his words carefully to this point, defending the right of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey — who sent the tweet, long-deleted yet still causing major problems — to freedom of expression.

Silver also said the league is apologetic over the disharmony caused by Morey's tweet but stopped well short of apologizing for the tweet itself.

Morey attempted to clarify his position in subsequent tweets, which some — including Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, the Taiwanese-Canadian co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba — considered an apology.

But the only true apology so far came from Rockets star James Harden, the 2017-18 NBA MVP who tried to fix things by insisting, "We love...

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