Chinese state TV maintains NBA blackout as games resume

LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the LA Clippers as NBA games resumed on July 30, 2020. (NBAE via Getty Images/AFP)
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Updated 31 July 2020

Chinese state TV maintains NBA blackout as games resume

  • The NBA commands a huge following in China, its biggest and most lucrative market outside of the US

BEIJING: China’s state broadcaster CCTV maintained its blackout of NBA games as the American basketball league resumed on Friday, extending a freedom-of-speech stand-off that stretches back more than nine months.
Although Chinese Internet giant Tencent streamed the NBA’s return from a four-month coronavirus shutdown, the world’s most popular basketball competition remained inaccessible to China’s TV audiences.
CCTV suspended all broadcasts of NBA matches in October after a Houston Rockets executive tweeted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protests, unleashing a firestorm of criticism in China.
The NBA commands a huge following in China — its biggest and most lucrative market outside of the US — and the subsequent fall-out has cost the league more than $300 million in revenue.
After NBA executives defended Morey’s right to freedom of expression, numerous Chinese business partners and celebrities cut ties with the league, games in China were canceled and the season was pulled from the airwaves.
CCTV — which holds exclusive TV rights for the league in China — posted a statement in May reiterating it had severed ties with the NBA, in response to online rumors that the games may be broadcast again.
“On issues concerning China’s sovereignty, CCTV Sports’ attitude is solemn, clear and consistent with no room whatsoever for ambiguity or maneuver,” CCTV wrote.
As the league tried to contain the fallout, US politicians also slammed the league for trying to appease the Chinese government.
In May, the NBA named Michael Ma — the son of CCTV Sports executive Ma Guoli — as CEO of NBA China, as speculation swirled that his appointment could help warm ties with the state broadcaster.
However, the nationalist tabloid Global Times wrote earlier this month that “it remains unlikely that the games will return to Chinese platforms if the issues between the NBA and the Chinese public are not solved.”
It emerged earlier this week that the NBA last year ended its association with a training center in China’s western Xinjiang region, where Beijing faces growing international condemnation over its treatment of minorities.
An ESPN report this week alleged that young players at the NBA’s China academies were physically abused and left without schooling, and that the NBA was “re-evaluating” the program.


NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

Updated 08 August 2020

NBA playoff picture comes into a bit more focus

  • Orlando and Washington are last two teams contending for one spot in the East
  • The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida: The NBA playoff picture is getting a little clearer.
Brooklyn secured one of the last two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference on Friday, defeating Sacramento 119-106. That leaves Orlando and Washington as the last two teams contending for one spot in the East, with the Magic needing only one more win or one Wizards loss to clinch.
Orlando and Washington were both playing later Friday.
For the Nets, the clinching comes as something to savor in a topsy-turvy season.
Kevin Durant couldn’t play at all because of his recovery from Achilles surgery — yet still got a $1 million contract bonus because Brooklyn made the postseason. Kyrie Irving missed much of the year because of injury, the Nets had several regulars opt out of participating in the restart, changed coaches in March and have used 24 players so far this season.
“It’s great to punch our own ticket into the playoffs,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “I joked with the guys: I like my laundry being done, but nothing like doing your own laundry.”
The race for the last unclaimed playoff spot in the Western Conference remains close, with teams vying to grab the No. 8 spot and play the Los Angeles Lakers in the first round. If the eighth- and ninth-place teams are within four games of one another when the seeding game schedule ends next week, there will be a two-game series to determine who gets the last playoff spot.
Should that series take place, the ninth-place team would have to go 2-0 in a best-of-two series to advance.
Memphis remained alone in eighth, after the Grizzlies snapped a four-game bubble losing streak by beating Oklahoma City on Friday 121-92. The Grizzlies are one game ahead of Portland in the West standings.
“We channeled what we’ve done all season long,” Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins said. “We played Grizzlies basketball. Grizzlies basketball equals Grizzlies wins, more often than not. We hadn’t done that in the first four games.”
San Antonio leaped idle Phoenix into 10th in the West by beating Utah 119-111, with the Spurs improving to 3-2 in the bubble. The Spurs (30-38) are one game behind Portland in the standings.
“At the end of the day, we can’t control what they’re doing,” Spurs center Jakob Poeltl said. “We can only control what we’re doing. We’re going to take every game as it comes. We’re going to try to win every game.”
Phoenix, Sacramento and New Orleans remain in the mix for a play-in series spot. The Suns, who are 4-0 at Disney, play Miami on Saturday.