Adam Silver, commissioner of the National Basketball Association, said on Tuesday that he hoped to find “mutual respect” between the organization and China following a diplomatic row over Hong Kong protests.
In the midst of massive demonstrations in 2019 against the Chinese government in Hong Kong, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey wrote on Twitter, “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The Chinese Basketball Association subsequently cut all ties with the Rockets, and merchandise with the team’s logo disappeared from Chinese stores. Silver said at the time that Morey had the right to free expression, although “there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”
“We’ve continued a dialogue with the Chinese, with our business partners there. In certain cases, with certain government officials,” Silver told Time on Tuesday. The commissioner said he felt the NBA’s relationship with China had improved since the Hong Kong row.
“As I’ve said before…we come to China with a certain set of core American values and principles,” Silver continued. “They have a different view of how things have been done, how things should be done. And hopefully, we can find mutual respect for each other.”
China represents the NBA’s largest market outside the U.S. In February of this year Silver said the league could lose up to $400 million because of the Hong Kong incident.
Silver’s most recent comments came the same day that China enacted a new national security law that Hong Kong pro-democracy activists contend will effectively end the territory’s autonomy from the mainland. The law sanctions life-imprisonment for offenders, and democracy advocates have already begun to dissolve or cease operations within the territory.