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China backlash will result in huge financial loss for NBA

CHICAGO — Although he did not have a spreadsheet in front of him, NBA commissioner Adam Silver did not need to rely on an accountant to sense the league will experience a financial loss.

Amid China’s backlash toward the NBA after Rockets general manager Daryl Morey published a tweet supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests, Silver offered precise estimations on how that will affect the NBA’s bottom line.

“I think that the magnitude of the loss will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” Silver said on Saturday. “Certainly, probably less than $400 million, maybe even less than that. It’s substantial. I don’t want to run from that.”

The tension emerged when Morey tweeted, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong” just as the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets embarked on a preseason trip in October to Shenzhen and Beijing.

CCTV, a Chinese state-run television station, declined to broadcast the Lakers-Nets games. Telecom company Tencent canceled Rockets coverage and all NBA preseason games. The Chinese government pressured the NBA to cancel an NBA Cares event with the Nets. Various Chinese companies have announced they will end partnerships with various NBA stars. Although the NBA still played a pair of preseason games, the league did not have any press conferences for Silver or either team. CCTV has yet to air an NBA game since the regular season started.

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