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Chinese Government to NBA: Shut Up and Dribble

Fans wait for the start of the National Basketball Association (NBA) pre-season match between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets at Mercedes Benz Arena in Shanghai on October 10, 2019. (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL / AFP) (Photo by HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
HECTOR RETAMAL/Getty Images

The Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are playing a preseason basketball game in China right now, which wasn't at all a certainty considering all the drama that's unfolded since Daryl Morey pressed send. While the debate of ethics in growing the game abroad rages here in the states, one thing truth has emerged. The NBA, like any big business, really wants that sweet money.

Everyone involved is in a tough situation, especially those on the ground in China where dissent is less than encouraged and enforcement is strong. Adam Silver would prefer this whole thing be over and is in the toughest place of all. His efforts to tightrope the delicate wire have been at times clumsy but, credit where it's due, he hasn't completely fallen off.

But if you're thinking either he or the players will get another opportunity to weigh in on it all, think again. ESPN's Rachel Nichols is reporting this morning that the Chinese government has forbidden any media availability following the game.

This will only give more ammunition to the critics and rightly so. Being publicly told to essentially shut up and dribble by a foreign government is humiliating. It goes against some core American values. The optics are this: the Chinese are our handlers, rubbing the shoulders of our marketable athletes and cooing, "shhh baby let me do all the talking."

At the same time, it's probably unreasonable to expect Silver, LeBron James and/or anyone else involved to slap together an official presser following the final whistle. It would see they could do something informally but that remains to be seen.

Bottom line: not great.