As LeBron James’ image comes off Shanghai building, status of Lakers’ exhibition games is uncertain

On the side of one of many gleaming towers in Shanghai, a worker rappelled down as he began peeling the images of Anthony Davis, LeBron James and Kyrie Irving from the glass.

The eerie sequence, captured on video one day before the Lakers were to play the Nets for their first of two exhibition games in China, was the most ominous sign yet that plans could well be canceled in the wake of the NBA’s controversy there.

Two NBA Cares events have been scrapped by the Chinese government, including one in which the Lakers were supposed to have participated on Wednesday to benefit the Special Olympics. Even for the teams and the league, scant information has been available about what on their itinerary will actually get done.

The Lakers and the NBA are both still hoping that Thursday’s game in Shanghai, scheduled to be played at 4:30 am PDT, will happen. But there’s a growing feeling of uncertainty around whether China will let the exhibitions proceed.

All this for a seven-word tweet? What started out as a reaction to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey supporting Hong Kong protesters has morphed into a cold shoulder for the league. Multiple media outlets have reported that Chinese companies and celebrities have pulled out of the Lakers-Nets exhibitions, the second of which is scheduled for Saturday in Shenzhen.

The NBA has repeatedly stated its intent to play the games, but dealing with the Chinese government can be frustratingly opaque. ESPN reported that Commissioner Adam Silver met with players on Wednesday, in part to hear out their growing unrest and uncertainty.

Cancellation would interrupt a string of 26 NBA exhibitions that have been played in China since 2004. But in the bigger picture, the controversy threatens to fray the ties between a dedicated fan base and a league that enjoys a lot of Chinese business.

Several Chinese institutions, including the Chinese Basketball Association, have already pledged to no longer do deals with the Rockets. State-run CCTV has already canceled preseason broadcasts and is reportedly considering further action against the NBA, which has an estimated $1.5 billion deal for broadcast rights in China.

Stateside, political leaders have ripped China for its campaign against Morey, including senators Ted Cruz (R.-Texas) and Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) and asked the NBA to take a more aggressive stance.

With the NBA’s posters literally being torn from the skies of Shanghai, observers are left to wonder what else might be coming down.

Source: Mercury news
As LeBron James’ image comes off Shanghai building, status of Lakers’ exhibition games is uncertain