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Hong Kong tweet will cost NBA ‘hundreds of millions’, says Silver

NBA commissioner Adam Silver

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league will lose “several hundred million dollars” due to the controversy in China over Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet about Hong Kong in October.

Chinese sponsors and media partners stopped cooperating with the NBA as part of a larger backlash in China against Morey’s tweet, which stated support for the anti-Chinese government protests in Hong Kong. State broadcaster CCTV has still not resumed showing NBA games.

The New York Times reported that Silver said: “I think that the magnitude of the loss will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Certainly probably less than $400 million, maybe even less than that.”

Silver said the full impact of the loss would only be clear after this year’s playoffs. The league has already lowered its salary cap projections for next season in part because of the issue.

“We were taken off the air in China for a period of time, and it caused our many business partners in China to feel it was, therefore, inappropriate to have ongoing relationships with us,” he said.

“But I don’t have any sense that there’s any permanent damage to our business there, and as I’ve said before, we accept the consequences of our system and our values. It’s not a position any business wants to be in, but those are the results.”

Silver said he believed CCTV would eventually resume showing NBA games, and that digital rights partner Tencent was showing an average of three games per game-night.

In recent months, the NBA has donated to the effort to tackle the coronavirus, and Silver said the league was discussing playing an expanded set of pre-season games in China later this year. He also said the US national team may play a pre-Tokyo 2020 game in the country.