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NBA pressing ahead with Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles exhibition game in Shanghai

Watch Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers from Shanghai live on Sky Sports Arena on Thursday lunchtime (12:30pm)

Reuters

Thursday 10 October 2019 14:01, UK

A worker removes a promotional banner from a building for the National Basketball Association (NBA) October 10 preseason game in China
Image: A worker removes a promotional banner from a building for the National Basketball Association (NBA) October 10 preseason game in China

The NBA is pressing ahead with the Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers exhibition game in Shanghai on Thursday, despite backlash against the league from China after a Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey's tweet supporting Hong Kong protests.

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The NBA on Thursday published a post on Chinese social networking platform Weibo promoting the match between the Lakers and the Nets, accompanied by a short clip featuring star players LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

The game is scheduled to begin at 12:30pm (UK time) and will be aired live on Sky Sports Arena.

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NBA events scheduled on Tuesday and Wednesday were cancelled and Chinese sponsors and partners suspended or severed ties with the league after Rockets GM Morey tweeted last week supporting anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong protests began in opposition to a bill allowing extradition to mainland China but have since evolved into broader calls for democracy.

LeBron James dribbles upcourt against Golden State
Image: LeBron James dribbles upcourt against Golden State

China has accused the West of stirring up anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong, and Chinese state media has characterised Morey's tweet as the latest example of meddling in China's own affairs.

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League commissioner Adam Silver spoke out in support of Morey's freedom of expression on Tuesday, further angering Beijing. The NBA's business in China, which took years to cultivate and is estimated to be worth more than $4billion, is under immense pressure.

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Chinese state and party-backed media continued to publish items critical of the NBA.

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The official English newspaper China Daily published an editorial cartoon on Thursday playing on the NBA's official logo of an athlete dribbling a basketball. The cartoon instead put a bomb labelled "politics" in the athlete's hand, leaving the basketball fallen by the wayside.

Kyrie Irving in action at Nets practice
Image: Kyrie Irving in action at Nets practice

Some Chinese netizens also called on those attending Thursday's game to carry the Chinese flag into the stadium in a demonstration of patriotic solidarity.

"Those going to watch the game live, remember to bring the national flag," one user on Weibo wrote. "Hope to see a sea of red, five-starred red flag fluttering in the wind."

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