Even if NBA restarts season, Chinese state television still will not show games

Liu Jianmin/VCG via Getty Images

The shared pain and challenges of the coronavirus has not thawed the relationship between the United States and China.

The same is true for the NBA and China.

Even if the NBA can restart the season, those games will not be shown on Chinese state television, China’s CCTV said on Tuesday on Weibo (essentially China’s Twitter). That announcement was made in response to the NBA naming Michael Ma as the new CEO of NBA China (Ma’s father was one of the founders of CCTV). Ma’s appointment led to speculation that the NBA might return to Chinese state television (games can still be streamed in China on Tencent).

The frostiness between the NBA and China dates back to Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey’s Tweet back in the preseason supporting Hong Kong protestors. Not long after that, NBA games were taken off CCTV, and many Chinese sponsors pulled out of their deals with the league.

That may cost the league as much as $400 million in revenue, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during All-Star weekend back in February.

That Tweet and the fallout did not happen in a vacuum — tensions between the United States and China over everything from trade to the coronavirus remain, and have ramped up in recent weeks. The NBA is one of a number of businesses — such as farmers, some building construction and more — that have been caught in the political crossfire between the two nations.

It’s unclear when the NBA will return to Chinese state television. Or, for that matter, American televisions.