The NBA said it will go ahead with an exhibition game in Shanghai on Thursday that had looked in doubt after a team executive ignited a free speech row that has angered China. "The Lakers and the Nets will face each other in the NBA China game in Shanghai beginning tonight at 19:30," the NBA said on its verified Chinese social media account. The fate of the game had become increasingly unclear due to the controversy sparked last week by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of pro-democracy demonstrators in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong.
His comments, and subsequent NBA statements on the matter, have caused broadcasters to cancel plans to air the game and another due to be played in the city of Shenzhen on Saturday.
Chinese sponsors of the NBA also have severed ties with the league in protest, crews in China have torn down promotional banners across the city, and the NBA has abruptly cancelled a series of publicity events in the lead-up to the Shanghai game at the last minute.
In going ahead with the game, the NBA will defy not only Chinese calls for the league to get out of China, but also calls by US politicians to shun China's market as a matter of principle in the dispute.
An NBA representative reached by AFP also confirmed that the game would go ahead.
Neither the social media account nor the league representative mentioned the fate of Saturday's game.