As the NBA’s relationship with China continues to be a major talking point, no NBA player that is currently in China will be able to talk about it.
The league announced on Friday that there would not be any media availability for the Los Angeles Lakers or Brooklyn Nets before or after their preseason game in Shenzen on Saturday.
The two teams played each other on Thursday — a 114-111 Nets victory — in Shanghai, but neither team spoke after a mandate by the Chinese government that shut down all press conferences, including one scheduled with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver.
This time the NBA is making its decision independent of the Chinese government, per ESPN.
“We have decided not to hold media availability for our teams for the remainder of our trip in China,” the NBA announced in a statement.
“They have been placed into a complicated and unprecedented situation while abroad and we believe it would be unfair to ask them to address these matters in real time.”
The action comes following uproar over a tweet Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey sent last week when he demonstrated his support for protestors against the Chinese government in Hong Kong.
Morey had deleted the tweet and issued an apology, while the NBA issued a statement to assure China his views do not reflect the league. Players such as Rockets star James Harden also publicly apologized.
The NBA’s statement resulted in backlash from U.S. politicians on both sides of the aisle, criticizing the league for not supporting Morey’s right to free speech and kowtowing to China’s authoritarian government.
In China, several events to promote the NBA were cancelled but the preseason games continued as planned — with the exception of media availability — with the final game taking place in Shenzen, approximately 20 miles from Hong Kong.