China Ends Year-Long NBA TV Boycott, Will Air NBA Finals Game 5

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China Ends Year-Long NBA TV Boycott to Air Finals Game 5 on Friday

NBA games have been off Chinese state television ever since Daryl Morey’s support of Hong Kong protesters

China’s CCTV has ended its year-long boycott of the NBA, announcing that it will carry tonight’s NBA Finals game.

Chinese state television had effectively banned the league from its airwaves (though some games were still available on the Chinese streaming service Tencet) as a repercussion for the league refusing to punish Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey over his tweeting of support of Hong Kong protestors last fall.

But in a statement Friday, CCTV commended the league’s help with the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

“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 (via ESPN). “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.”

Friday’s decision by CCTV ends a year-long stalemate between the NBA and China, among the league’s most prominent international partners. The relationship between the two had been frosty ever since Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protestors who were staging months of demonstrations regarding a new extradition law from mainland China.

Morey’s support was immediately criticized by the Chinese government, and the Chinese Basketball Association immediately severed ties with the Rockets. NBA games were also immediately dropped from CCTV.

Friday night will see LeBron James and Los Angeles Lakers attempt to win the franchise’s 17th championship, which would tie them with the Boston Celtics for the most titles in the NBA. For James, it would be his fourth, and third with a different team.

Tim Baysinger