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China State Media Airs NBA Game after 18-Month Hiatus

FILE - Employees watch a live broadcast of Game 5 of the NBA Finals at an NBA store in Beijing, China, Oct. 10, 2020.

The National Basketball Association was back on Chinese state media Wednesday following an 18-month suspension sparked by an NBA general manager’s tweet supporting pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong that angered Beijing.

A game between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Utah Jazz was broadcast on CCTV, a Chinese government–run channel.

The dispute started when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted support of Hong Kong protesters in 2019.

Morey walked back his support following backlash from China, saying, "I have always appreciated the significant support (from) our Chinese fans and sponsors … I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention.”

Morey was criticized for costing the NBA millions of dollars in revenue from the largest foreign market.

Chinese fans were not completely cut off from the NBA during the suspension because some games were available on streaming platforms.

CCTV did not announce the Wednesday game would be aired and did not say why the game was aired, according to Agence France-Presse. The NBA in China has not commented.

The reception for the NBA’s apparent return was mixed.

"Who's to blame for Chinese people's lack of backbone?" posted one person on China’s heavily controlled social media platform Weibo. "How will foreigners treat us if our official media do this sort of thing?"

Some information in this report comes from Agence France-Presse and Reuters.