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A schedule of games that included a 40-point performance from Stephen Curry and the Clippers debut of Kawhi Leonard featured an unusual scene in Shanghai.
The U.S. and Chinese national anthems were not played before the game. All media events Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Arena including pregame availabilities
postgame news conferences and a long-scheduled media session with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — were canceled.
The Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it was not going to show the Lakers-Nets games on Thursday or in Shenzhen on Saturday.
NBA broadcast partner Tencent also said it was changing its coverage plans for the league.
But fans came in droves, nearly every seat in the 18,000-seat arena appeared filled and they cheered for James loudest of all as usual.
James has made almost-annual visits to China during his NBA career to promote the game and his personal brand, and his popularity there is enormous.
Given fan reaction to James there this week, including being mobbed by well-wishers who chanted
and snapped countless pictures with their phones as he walked through a Shanghai mall on Wednesday
not even the politically charged unrest between China and the NBA could dampen how revered he is in the world’s most populous country.
Irving tried to play through his left-side facial fracture, an injury that occurred in a pickup game last month.
He was wearing a clear mask in an effort to protect his face, but bumped into Rondo while playing defense just 1:06 into the contest.
Irving’s face made contact with Rondo’s upper arm. The Nets guard immediately winced in pain
took the mask off and motioned to the bench that he needed a substitute.
The game was played after several events to promote the NBA’s annual appearance in China
Obviously of Course were called off because of the rift between China’s government and the league
And started by a since-deleted tweet from Houston general manager Daryl Morey that supported anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.