While the Lakers and Nets are in China to play a pair of preseason basketball games, the games themselves have been dwarfed by the intense political situation. Following Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey tweeting out in support of democratic protesters in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has taken steps to financially inhibit the NBA.
The NBA lost numerous major sponsors following commissioner Adam Silver supporting Morey’s right to free speech. Though the first game did go on as scheduled, the broadcast was pulled from Chinese airwaves and the media availability for both teams was canceled – including a pair of NBA Cares events.
NBA Cancels Lakers and Nets Media Availability For Rest of China Trip
Opting to avoid being canceled on by the Chinese Government again, the NBA has canceled media availability for both teams for the remainder of the trip. Especially in light of the CNN reporter being shut down for asking Harden and Westbrook about the situation, the NBA seemingly cannot afford any more bad press on the subject and seems to be trying to take the safest way out.
While NBA-sponsored media availability has been canceled, Ganguli made sure to note that teams were free to host their own media sessions, though it seems unlikely either team is willing to expose their players to media. By all accounts, the players are extremely frustrated with the situation they’ve been put in. Rightfully so considering the NBA has dropped them in the middle of a heated international human right’s discussion.
Lakers Looking for Revenge Against Nets in Second Chinese Preseason Game
Despite the tensions and protests surrounding the first game, the Lakers and Nets wound up actually playing their first preseason showdown in Shanghai. Though the Lakers got out to a strong start, the Nets would take advantage of the Lakers resting their starters and closed out the game hot. Making numerous crucial defensive stops, the Nets were able to pull away with a win in the final seconds of what was an extremely exciting preseason game.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Rajon Rondo led the way for the Lakers in scoring, piling up 20, 16, and 18 points respectively. Alex Caruso had a very strong night off the bench – despite having a crucial turnover late – and poured in 11 points to go with eight assists and three steals.
The two teams meet again in Shenzhen tomorrow morning for the second, and final, meeting between the two before the teams head back to the United States. After the exceptional showing in their first preseason game against the Warriors, the Lakers look to get back into the win column before heading back home.
Similar to the first game, expect a court devoid of any corporate sponsorship and for Chinese fans to make sure they voice their displeasure with the NBA. Chinese fans protested with signs outside of the Mercedes Benz arena in Shanghai for the first game and waved Chinese flags inside the stadium to show support for their country.
Thankfully, it seems that both teams are able to head back home before too much longer.