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NBA-China rift grows, experts say there is no end in sight

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – The Milwaukee Bucks held their first preseason game at Fiserv Forum Wednesday, as a cloud of controversy hangs over the league.

China continues to cut ties with the NBA in the wake of a tweet sent out by the Houston Rocket’s General Manager, supporting Hong Kong protesters.

“I think that a huge amount of money is at stake,” said Dr. Barrett McCormick, a professor of political science at Marquette University.

Nearly all the league’s Chinese partners have cut ties, and events like media availability for a preseason game planned for Thursday have been canceled.

“The NBA though I think is really between a rock and a hard place on this,” said Dr. McCormick.

The NBA’s Commissioner says he regrets upsetting China, but also says people in the league have a right to free speech.

“I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one had to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principals,” said Commissioner Adam Silver.

Dr. McCormick disagrees. “That’s just not going to fly in China,” he said, “there’s just stuff that you, according to the nationalist Chinese perspective, you’re just not allowed to say.”

McCormick says China won’t likely back down quickly, and that’s a big deal.

About 10% of the league’s revenue is tied to China, leaving Commissioner Silver with a difficult decision.

“On this side you have the money and on this side you’ve got American and human values and I think the NBA has to make a decision there,” said Dr. McCormick.

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