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Volume 26 No. 209
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Silver Optimistic NBA Is On Track To Repair China Relationship

Silver believes his original China statement was misinterpreted by some after its translation
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
Silver believes his original China statement was misinterpreted by some after its translation
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN
Silver believes his original China statement was misinterpreted by some after its translation
Photo: MARC BRYAN-BROWN

While NBA games remain off linear CCTV in China, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver noted Tencent has started streaming games once again, which could be a thawing of the ice between the league and the Chinese government. Silver, speaking at the '19 Dealmakers in Sports conference, noted he has not yet spoken directly with Yao Ming, who is president of the Chinese Basketball Association, but others at the NBA have. "He wears many hats in China but one of them is an essence as a representative of the government," said Silver. "Everyone is being careful and diplomatic." He added that the NBA still has roughly 200 people working out of Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai. Silver: "People are continuing to do their jobs. Basketball remains probably the most popular sport in China."

LOST IN TRANSLATION: Silver said of his original statement on Daryl Morey's Hong Kong tweet being misinterpreted: "One thing that comes to mind, and this was I think more in terms of how we were perceived in the U.S. as opposed to China. ... A lesson learned there, and this is one we've put into practice already going forward, is that we will only have so-called 'approved translations.'" Silver: "Of all the issues that we are dealing with, I think there was absolutely no uncertainty in terms of what my words were in English, what the NBA's words were in English. There were multiple, frankly, Mandarin translations of it." He added, "For example, the New York Times ran a story ... with a sort of side by side, and said, 'Aha! They're saying one thing to the American media. They're saying something else in China.' There was zero intention of that and that could have been solved with a so-called approved translation. That is a business lesson learned."

NOT JUST AN NBA ISSUE: Silver commented on the fact that treading lightly in China is not a business practice unique to his league. "We have, in some ways, a uniquely American issue that we're dealing with in China," he said. "It's one that, as I look around the room, many people here do business in China. It's not an issue that is in any way unique to the NBA." Silver: "It may be that this was inevitable, that ultimately, there was going to be a culture clash of a certain kind. ... By no means am I suggesting that we did everything right. It's just too early to understand what it is we should have done differently retrospectively or even in the next few months what it is that maybe we'll do differently."