'We too love money more than freedom'

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Outside the team hotel, workers tore down massive banners advertising the game, according to a Reuters witness.

Wednesday's game in Washington undoubtedly won't be the last time we hear about the Hong Kong protests, which were sparked in the semi-autonomous state during the summer over a bill that would have allowed the extradition of criminal suspects to the mainland.

China has accused Western governments of stirring up anti-Beijing sentiment in Hong Kong, which has been roiled by months of sometimes violent protest.

The basketball furor also comes against the backdrop of the U.S. The Chinese government has apparently cracked down on all South Park-related content online, whether official or fan-based. "We too love money more than freedom", Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of the irreverent Comedy Central show, wrote in a Twitter post titled "Official apology to China". "Sponsors paused their deals with the Rockets, and the country's main broadcaster said it would remove the team's games from its schedule".

Whitlock called the situation an "education" for the casual sports fan, and criticized players and coaches who have apologized to China or have made similar remarks in the wake of Morey's tweet.

"If Silver thinks endorsing the indiscriminate violence the radical Hong Kong protesters are resorting to ... is supporting freedom of expression, then he should think again", it said. He became a star and helped build the NBA's following in China. "I don't think it's inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles".

"I'm patriotic of course".

The Chinese-owned brands that halted business this week include: smartphone maker Vivo, China's biggest travel website CTrip, dairy products company Mengniu, fast food chain Dicos, skincare brand Wzun, home appliance group Changhong Electric, sportswear giant Anta, China Mobile subsidiary Migu, food and beverage brand Master Kong, auto rental company eHi vehicle Services, home appliance manufacturer Meiling, and financial firm Xiaoying Technology. Long live the Great Communist Party of China!

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Basketball is the most popular sport in China, with about 300 million people playing the game.

The teams are also supposed to play Saturday in Shenzhen.

It's a very smart move on so many levels, especially given that the National Basketball Association hadn't even stumbled into its kerfuffle with China when Parker and Stone created this episode.

Meanwhile, a publicity event at a Shanghai primary school, at which Nets players and executives were set to appear on Tuesday afternoon, was cancelled two hours before its scheduled start. "Capital One Arena, we respect your freedom of speech", he says.

Some Chinese fans have asked for streaming subscription refunds from exclusive service provider Tencent, which halted broadcast of Rockets games after the Morey tweet.

The company also said it suspended Ng-wai Chung, known as Blitzchung, from the Hearthstone Grandmaster card game for a year.

Basketball is wildly popular in China and those two teams - largely because of LeBron James starring for the Lakers and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba's (nearly里巴巴) Taiwanse-American cofounder Joe Tsai (蔡崇信) now owning the Nets - would have nearly certainly been a huge television draw.

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