Lawson, 33, getting stuck in China prevented him from completing the move to Kolossos H Hotels, announced by the Greek team in early January. “I was trying to come to Kolossos but China would not let me out of the country for four or five months,” he explained, “I have been trying the visa, work visas, it was a long process. I wanted to come and play. I am here now, so I might go visit Kolossos, Rhodes, see how it is while I am here.”
But what about basketball will help China change their ways on human rights? Is that too Pollyannaish? Adam Silver: I don’t want to overstate it. While I’m a believer in soft power, I’m certainly not sitting here claiming that by virtue of televising NBA games in China lo and behold, there’ll be a reckoning in China to adopt a Western point of view about human rights. I do think that in order to bring about realistic change, we have to build relationships. At the end of the day we’re all human beings. And while there are many differences between our society and Chinese society, there are enormous commonalities as well. One of them is to love a sport. And basketball happens to be the most popular team sport in China right now. We think that through that common love and appreciation of the game of basketball, that that’s a way to bring people together. It’s as simple as that.
How do you respond to the criticism that the NBA and its players are outspoken about BLM and police violence, but don’t talk about human rights abuses in China? Adam Silver: My response there is that we and our players speak about issues that are closest to home. Our players have the absolute freedom to speak off the floor about any issue they want. I think it was a unique set of circumstances that led us to talk about Black Lives Matter over the course of last summer.
Fanbo Zeng, China’s top basketball prospect, is decommitting from Gonzaga and planning to join the NBA G League Ignite, sources tell The Athletic’s Shams Charania. The 6-foot-10 forward will be eligible for the NBA Draft in 2022. He was ranked as a four-star high school recruit out of Windermere Prep (Windermere, Fla.), where he played from 2018-2020 after arriving from China in 2017.
Zeng committed to Gonzaga last fall, but sources say the departure of assistant coach Tommy Lloyd — who led the recruitment of Zeng to the Bulldogs — played a major role in the 18-year-old’s decision to head to the G League now. Lloyd recently agreed to become the new head coach at Arizona. Zeng is set to join an Ignite program that made the G League postseason in its debut 2020-21 season. Last year, the Ignite signed prep stars Jonathan Kuminga, Jalen Green, Daishen Nix and Isaiah Todd to contracts. Green and Kuminga are potential top-five draft picks in this year’s NBA draft.
After a U.S. senator grilled the NBA over its purported new contract with China’s state-sponsored CCTV – and any free speech concessions such a deal might’ve required – The Post obtained a copy of the league’s response denying any deal had been struck or restrictions had even been discussed. The Chinese Communist Party daily Global Times (citing reporter Zhao Huanyu) stated China Central Television’s broadcast of the March 7 All-Star Game marked the start of NBA coverage returning to normal in China. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) fired off a two-page letter to commissioner Adam Silver questioning why the NBA cut a deal with a network controlled by the Communist party. Blackburn pressed Silver on 1) the details on the reported new contract and exactly what the league would need to “adhere to” regarding touchy subjects like Hong Kong and the Xinjiang region, (2) what the financial hit of being off CCTV was, and 3) the role China’s CEO Michael Ma — whose father is a top CCTV executive – played in the deal. Silver was given until March 30 to answer.