Chinese state TV ends yearlong NBA blackout to air Game 5 of Finals

Cassandra Negley
·2 min read

Chinese state television announced it will break its yearlong ban of NBA games to air Game 5 of the Finals on Friday night.

It comes one year and one day after broadcaster CCTV quit airing games following tweets by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that supported pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

The Los Angeles Lakers are on the brink of a championship and will wear their Black Mamba uniforms against the Miami Heat in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.

Conflict between China and NBA dates to 2019

China's flag hangs in the NBA store amid basketballs.
Chinese state TV will air Game 5 of the NBA Finals after a yearlong ban on the league. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

CCTV stopped airing NBA games after Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protestors during their human rights struggle against the Chinese government.

On Oct. 4, 2019, Morey retweeted an image that read: “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”

He deleted it after it caused an international uproar. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta took to Twitter to say Morey does not speak for the Rockets and “we are NOT a political organization.”

It all happened as the league was slated to play preseason games in China. The NBA is incredibly popular in China and the country pressured the league to fire Morey over the tweet. China cut all ties with the Rockets and suspended business deals with the league.

It created financial repercussions for the league, but also blowback for prominent players and coaches who actively voice social justice opinions but declined to support the Hong Kong protestors.

CCTV hadn’t aired a game all season and stated in May it would continue to ban the league “reiterating its consistent stance on national sovereignty.” The ban began officially on Oct. 8, 2019.

The NBA’s streaming partner, Tencent, cut down its schedule to only include the Los Angeles Lakers-Los Angeles Clippers game last October.

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