onsdag 9. oktober 2019

China's love for the NBA runs deep. But the Rockets scandal is forcing fans to choose between sport and country

Basketball may have been invented by a Canadian and popularized by Americans, but it has more fans in China than anywhere else. Courts can be found scattered all over the country, from a cave in Guizhou province to a rooftop in Shanghai. Even China's controversial man-made islands in the South China Sea have courts.

An estimated 300 million people play basketball in China, according to figures cited in Chinese state media. Many of them are fans of the NBA, whose future in the country could be in jeopardy thanks to a now-deleted tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for anti-government protests in Hong Kong. Those protests have significant support in Western democracies, but are seen by Beijing as destabilizing and dangerous. The demonstrations, now in their 18th week, have become increasingly violent, with protesters targeting Chinese businesses and banks, and burning the national flag.