NBA commissioner Adam Silver stood his ground in the face of backlash in China over a tweet by the general manager of the Houston Rockets backing the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
In a statement sent out shortly before he was to hold a news conference in Tokyo, Silver said the league "will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues."
Silver said "it is inevitable that people around the world — including from America and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences."
Silver also responded to those criticizing the league's approach over the last several days, including some U.S. lawmakers.
He said "this is about far more than growing our business. ... Values of equality, respect and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA - and will continue to do so. As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game."
The NBA released the statement shortly after Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it will no longer air two NBA preseason games set to be played in the country.
In a statement, CCTV indicated the decision was prompted by Silver's remarks in Japan following a tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey last week that supported anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong.
The broadcaster is also reviewing all its cooperation and exchanges involving the NBA, said the statement posted to CCTV Sports' official social media account.
CCTV says "we're strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver's claim to support Morey's right to freedom of expression."
Silver said in an interview with Kyodo News on Monday that the NBA supports Morey.