The NBA has abruptly called off a hotly anticipated press event for the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers in Shanghai, the latest attempt to contain what is fast becoming a major crisis after a team official tweeted support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. The tweet has placed the basketball league at odds with China's communist government -- and now threatens to undermine its decades-long relationship with the country and its millions of fans.
The firestorm began Friday when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey sent a tweet containing the popular protest rallying call "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." The tweet, though swiftly deleted, resulted in a severe backlash inside China, where the Hong Kong protests have been framed in state media as a foreign-backed independence movement.