(Reuters) – The Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers are scheduled to speak to the media on Friday, a day after playing an exhibition game in Shanghai amid a furor over a tweet last week from the Houston Rockets general manager supporting the protests in Hong Kong.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) said the Lakers would take questions from the media at 4 p.m. (0800 GMT) and the Nets at 5:15 p.m. (0915 GMT).
The game on Thursday night, which the Nets won 114-111, was well-attended and saw little in the way of patriotic protest. The crowd waved Chinese flags in the arena before the game started, but the packed stands gave the players a huge welcome on court and shouted enthusiastically throughout the game.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted last weekend in support of anti-government protests in Chinese-ruled Hong Kong, sparking criticism from Chinese state media. Fan events were canceled earlier in the week, and Chinese partners cut ties with the NBA.
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Nets owner Joe Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, attempted to play mediator. But his post invited more controversy in the United States after he labeled protesters in Hong Kong as “separatists.”
Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise have been pulled from several Nike and NBA stores in major Chinese cities, with the franchise’s direct association with Morey making it a central target of the furor. Managers at some of the Nike stores said they had been instructed to remove the goods via an internal memo from management.
The Lakers and the Nets are scheduled for a rematch in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, on the border with Hong Kong, on Saturday.
Writing by Gerry Doyle