Just over a year ago (no, seriously, this season has been going on for that long), Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sent out a tweet supporting protesters in Hong Kong who took to the streets in protest of the Chinese government. It set off a fire storm — one which occurred while a few NBA teams were in China — which led to the government pulling NBA games from state-run network CCTV altogether.
There hasn’t been any games on that channel for the duration of this NBA season, something that Adam Silver mentioned has caused some bottom line struggles for the league. But that is shaping up to change on Friday, as multiple reports indicate that Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat is slated to air on CCTV.
Shams Charania of The Athletic and Brian Windorst of ESPN both announced the news, with Windhorst including some information that came via a statement.
In its statement, CCTV cited the NBA’s assistance with fighting COVID-19 in the country as a reason for restoring broadcasts. The league donated more than $1 million and medical equipment to China earlier this year. The league and some players have expressed support for China during the past year.
“During the recent Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, the NBA sent their well wishes to fans in China,” CCTV said in a statement. “We also took note of the league has been continuously delivering goodwill [to China], particularly making positive contributions to Chinese people’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic.”
The league’s relationship with China, beyond the TV information, has come under scrutiny by politicians in the United States, particularly right-wing politicians who claim that the league is cozying up to the country. An example of this came when United States senator Josh Hawley sent out a statement alleging that the NBA was “kowtowing to Bejing,” which led to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN replying “f*ck you.”