China ends NBA blackout, will air Lakers-Heat Game 5 of the NBA Finals
“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.”
The NBA did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
The NBA and China have a complicated relationship that has made headlines several times recently. On Oct. 4, 2019, Houston’s Daryl Morey put out a since-deleted tweet in support of the Hong Kong protests, which led to China’s state-run TV refusing to air games.
Criticism of the NBA’s ties to China was renewed months later when it was discovered that customers were prohibited from ordering online custom gear with the words “Free Hong Kong” on them.
In July, ESPN reported human rights abuses at the NBA’s training academies in China. The bombshell report indicated that young participants in the NBA program were physically beaten by Chinese instructors and were not provided proper schooling.
The NBA Finals — and the longest season in league history, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic and 4-1/2 month shutdown that followed — could end on Friday night. Lakers star Lebron James and the Lakers are going into Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead over the Miami Heat. The Heat are simply looking for a way to extend this matchup into a Game 6 Sunday. But James is looking for his fourth ring and, he says, a whole new level of respect from L.A. fans.
Fox News’ Daniel Canova and The Associated Press contributed to this report.