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2020 NBA Finals Game 5 to Air in China After Long Hiatus

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After a year-long time-out, the show returns to the most populous country on earth.

NBA: Finals-Los Angeles Lakers at Miami Heat Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a year-long suspension following controversial comments, the NBA is returning to China and Chinese television. Shams Charania of The Athletic tweeted this morning that Game 5 of the 2020 NBA Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat will be shown on China’s state-run CCTV.

On October 4th last year, Houston Rockets executive Daryl Morey tweeted out support for protests in Hong Kong, which were later supported by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The comments resulted in a withdrawal of Chinese support for the league. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst quotes CCTV praising the NBA’s assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic in China as one of the publicly-stated reasons for the return.

Per Windhorst’s article:

The league donated more than $1 million and medical equipment to China earlier this year. The league and some players have expressed support for China during the past year.

“During the recent Chinese National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival celebrations, the NBA sent their well wishes to fans in China,” CCTV said in a statement. “We also took note of the league has been continuously delivering goodwill [to China], particularly making positive contributions to Chinese people’s fight against COVID-19 pandemic.”

Game 5 will commence at 6:00, Pacific Time this evening. It will be televised in the U.S. on ABC. The Lakers hold a 3-1 lead and can close out the Heat with a victory.