China Central Television, the state-run Chinese television network, said the N.B.A. Commissioner Adam Silver would face “retribution” for saying that the Chinese government asked him to fire a league executive who supported the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong this month.
The public threat was broadcast Saturday evening in a commentary, in which CCTV also said that “it is ugly for the president of an internationally influential sports league to openly make up a lie to discredit China.” The broadcast picked up traffic in Chinese media outlets like the South China Morning Post.
An N.B.A. spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The incident was the latest escalation in a feud that took the league by surprise early this month, when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, posted to Twitter and quickly deleted an image supportive of the demonstrators in Hong Kong.
On Thursday, speaking at the Time 100 Health Summit, Silver said that the Chinese government had asked the N.B.A. to fire Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets.
“We said there’s no chance that’s happening,” Silver said. “There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
A spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry pushed back on that characterization soon after, saying at his daily news briefing in Beijing that the Chinese government “never posed this requirement.”
That spokesman, Geng Shuang, had previously suggested that the N.B.A. take action, but, at a news briefing in the days after Morey’s Twitter post did not directly call for Morey’s dismissal.
“The N.B.A. has been in cooperation with China for many years,” Geng said. “It knows clearly in its heart what to say and what to do.”
The commentary on CCTV referred to the demonstrators in Hong Kong as violent mobs and said Silver showed he had problems in his character. It added that, “once someone’s morality goes wrong, he will receive retribution sooner or later.”
CCTV warned that, “Freedom of speech does not mean that it can be arbitrary nonsense.”
Morey’s tweet, on Oct. 4, caused an immediate backlash: Several companies in China cut ties with the Rockets, and CCTV chose not to broadcast exhibition games in Shanghai and Shenzhen between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets the next week. (The league was initially panned in the United States by politicians across the spectrum for not more firmly standing behind Morey, pushing Silver to release a new statement days later.)
In recent days, the Chinese government has sought to de-escalate the tensions at the rare intersection of sports, business, and international and domestic politics. Reporters at state-run news outlets were told more than a week ago to stop focusing on the N.B.A. issue.
The N.B.A.’s partnership with China is being threatened against a backdrop of far broader Sino-American tensions, including a 17-month trade war between the United States and China and growing disputes over security and technology issues. Beijing has worried that if the debate over Morey’s tweet continues to fester, the Hong Kong protesters may attract support from athletes around the world and potentially from their fans as well. Beijing officials have even begun to fret that the Hong Kong dispute may lead to calls for a boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Silver said at the TIME summit on Thursday that he was uncertain whether the N.B.A. would ever return to China, which the league has targeted for international expansion for decades.
And the issue does not appear to be disappearing for the league. During a preseason game in Brooklyn on Friday night featuring the Nets and the Toronto Raptors, at least 100 demonstrators showed up to express support for the Hong Kong protests, which have been going on for months targeting the central government in Beijing.
Protesters charge that the ruling Communist Party is trying to curtail civil liberties in the semiautonomous territory. Joe Tsai, the new owner of the Nets, inflamed the conflict soon after Morey’s tweet, when he posted an open letter on Facebook on Oct. 6, referring to the demonstrators in Hong Kong as a “separatist movement,” while also being critical of Morey.
Keith Bradsher contributed reporting from Shanghai.
Brooks Koepka Withdraws From Presidents Cup Team
Brooks Koepka’s knee injury is bad enough that on Wednesday he withdrew from the Presidents Cup three weeks before it begins.
Koepka, the No. 1 player in the world who led all qualifiers for the American team, said the injury he suffered Oct. 18 at the CJ Cup in South Korea has not healed well enough for him to complete Dec. 12-15 at Royal Melbourne in Australia.
United States captain Tiger Woods replaced him with Rickie Fowler.
“I consider it to be a high honor to be part of the 2019 team and I regret not being able to compete,” Koepka said in a statement. “Since my injury in Korea, I have been in constant contact with Tiger and assured him that I was making every effort to be 100% in time for the Presidents Cup in Australia. However, I need more time to heal.”
Koepka was coming off a season in which he won three times, including a second straight P.G.A. Championship, and had runner-up finishes in the Masters and United States Open. When he started the new season in October at Las Vegas, he revealed that he had had stem cell treatment on his left patella the day after the Tour Championship because his knee had been bothering him over the last five months of the season.
Two weeks later, he was walking down a slope off the tee at the par-5 third hole in the second round of the CJ Cup when his right foot hit a wet piece of concrete and he landed hard on his left knee for support. He shot 75 and withdrew after the round, returning to Florida for treatment.
Koepka has not spoken publicly about the nature of the injury. He was in touch with Woods, who had been contemplating alternative plans.
“Brooks and I talked, and he’s disappointed that he won’t be able to compete,” Woods said. “I told him to get well soon, and that we’re sorry he won’t be with us in Australia. He would clearly be an asset both on the course and in the team room.”
Woods, who used one of his four captain’s picks on himself after winning in Japan, originally left Fowler off the team and said it was the hardest phone call he made when telling prospective players he was not taking them.
Fowler has played on the last two Presidents Cup teams, going 2-0-1 in team play with Justin Thomas at Liberty National in 2017.
“When I heard Brooks wasn’t going to be ready to play, I was bummed for him and the team,” Fowler said. “Then I got a call from both Brooks and Tiger. I was humbled and excited to be given the chance. To be picked by Tiger to compete with him and the rest of the team is very special. It is impossible to replace the world’s No. 1, but I can assure my teammates and American golf fans that I will be prepared and ready to do my part to bring home the Presidents Cup.”
Jamal Crawford Wants His Melo Moment
Want more basketball in your inbox? Sign up for Marc Stein’s weekly N.B.A. newsletter here.
When Carmelo Anthony makes his expected Portland Trail Blazers debut on Tuesday night in New Orleans, Jamal Crawford will be back in the Pacific Northwest, tweaking his daily workout routine to mix in some TV time.
Crawford typically heads to the gym twice daily in Seattle to keep himself sharp while waiting for the kind of call Anthony just got from the Trail Blazers. But some games in mid-November are must-watch — and Blazers at Pelicans suddenly qualifies as worthy of schedule shuffling.
“I’m rooting for Melo big time,” Crawford said.
Like Anthony, Crawford has no shortage of supporters openly wondering when he will be summoned back to the N.B.A. No less a legend than Bill Russell tweeted in support of Crawford on Nov. 8, tacking on the hashtag: #getthismanajob.
Crawford turns 40 in March, but admitted he was “shocked” his phone didn’t ring with more interest in the off-season after his 2018-19 stint with the Phoenix Suns. He didn’t have a job with the Suns, either, until the night before the regular season started — but Crawford finished the campaign with a 51-point flourish in Dallas on April 9.
It was one of the most remarkable regular-season finales in league history. In Dirk Nowitzki’s last home game of his Hall of Fame-worthy run with the Dallas Mavericks, in which he scored 30 points on 31 shots before closing out his career the next night in San Antonio, Crawford arguably upstaged him. In Game 82 for the Suns, Crawford scored 51 points on 30 shots in 38 minutes 8 seconds — off the bench.
From a selfish perspective, it was the sort of one-of-a-kind occasion that helped me make up for some internal conflict that still lingers from the final day of the 2015-16 season. I was in Oakland, Calif., that night to see the Golden State Warriors beat the Memphis Grizzlies and clinch a record-breaking 73rd victory against just nine losses, but that meant I could not be in Los Angeles to see Kobe Bryant score 60 points on 50 shots in his Lakers farewell after 20 seasons.
The stark difference from that wild and unforgettable occasion, of course, is that everyone knew Bryant was retiring before he walked onto the Staples Center floor and proceeded to riddle the Utah Jazz for sixty. Crawford does not want to retire.
In a phone interview, he made it clear that he remained determined to find a new team and rejected the notion that walking away after such a monumental game, à la Kobe, would make for the perfect send-off.
“I know that it was historic in a bunch of ways,” Crawford said of a performance that made him the oldest 50-point scorer in league history, as well as the first to do so as a reserve — and to do it with four franchises (Suns, Warriors, Knicks, Bulls).
“But I honestly thought more so along the lines of: ‘I’m re-energized. I’m ready for the next chapter.’”
Crawford’s detractors assert that he is bound to surrender more points defensively than he could ever score at this stage of his career. But he doesn’t fire back at them. Insistent on positivity even though this is the first November since his lone collegiate season at Michigan in 1999-2000 in which he did not hold an N.B.A. job, Crawford appears to have taken on the role of spokesman for the various veteran free agents who, like him, have been unable to find a new employer since last season.
“Take myself out of it,” Crawford said, before proceeding to list several peers in a similar bind: Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Kenneth Faried and J.R. Smith. Crawford also mentioned Jeremy Lin, who signed with the Beijing Ducks of the Chinese Basketball Association when he could not land an N.B.A. contract over the summer.
“You still have a ton of quality guys out there,” Crawford said. “That’s something that’s a little alarming for me.”
The past week, though, has been a source of encouragement. The Nets signed Iman Shumpert in response to Caris LeVert’s need for surgery on his right thumb. Then the Blazers, however desperate they looked at 4-8 when their Anthony interest went public, ended Melo’s yearlong wait for an opportunity to go out in circumstances more befitting of a 25,551-point scorer.
Things are starting to happen for the veteran set.
“I honestly don’t think it’s anything personal,” Crawford said of the fact that he remains unsigned. “Obviously I can still play.”
When I jokingly reminded Crawford that he’s averaging 51 points in his last one game played, he quickly volunteered: “And I averaged 31 points for the month of April. I just had the highest scoring month in my whole career after not really playing that much all year.”
It’s true. The Suns went 2-2 in April in the four games Crawford played, with the three-time winner of the N.B.A.’s Sixth Man Award scoring 19, 28, 27 and, yes, 51.
Crawford understands that he is not guaranteed a Melo moment. He knows — as Anthony surely grasps better than any vet looking for work — that prospective teams are generally more inclined to focus on the things that free agents in their twilight years can no longer do rather than what they still can.
Yet Crawford refused to believe that Melo was out of options after his Houston flameout. Nor is he listening to anyone who suggests that all 30 N.B.A. teams’ doors are closed to him.
“In my heart of hearts, I feel like it’ll happen,” Crawford said. “I just don’t know when.”
This newsletter is OUR newsletter. So please weigh in with what you’d like to see here. To get your hoops-loving friends and family involved, please forward this email to them so they can jump in the conversation. If you’re not a subscriber, you can sign up here.
You ask; I answer. Every week in this space, I’ll field three questions posed via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Please include your first and last name, as well as the city you’re writing in from, and make sure “Corner Three” is in the subject line.)
Q: Are the Heat for real? — John McDonald
Stein: I’m not totally sure what your definition of “real” is. But I’m answering yes.
I was confident Jimmy Butler would be a stealth candidate for the Most Valuable Player Award on South Beach because he was destined to flourish with such strong backing from the Miami leadership duo of Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.
I also had a strong feeling Goran Dragic would fare well in his new role off the bench — which is why I picked him as my Sixth Man Award favorite coming into the season.
But I would be fibbing in the extreme if I told you that I anticipated Kendrick Nunn and Bam Adebayo quickly establishing themselves as top contenders for rookie of the year (Nunn) and most improved player (Adebayo) honors. Nunn’s rise was forecast by precisely no one — and Adebayo has responded to his failure to make U.S.A. Basketball’s squad for the FIBA World Cup in China in the best manner possible. We so often talk about the boost players get after playing for the national team; it appears, in Bam’s case, that the snub was a spark.
The East has actually been deeper than advertised, with Boston off to such a strong start and Toronto following up its championship run by stubbornly refusing to pout over Kawhi Leonard’s free-agent defection to the Los Angeles Clippers. But Miami clearly looks like top-five material — with Butler sure to be offended that I didn’t say top-three.
Q: Is the Celtics’ great start really as simple as just swapping Kyrie Irving for Kemba Walker? It also feels like they benefited from getting rid of a gunner like Terry Rozier. Now they don’t have quite so many guys who need the ball. — Sam Chadwick
Stein: It is not that simple, Sam. It rarely is.
But there’s no denying that all the tension and questions surrounding Kyrie’s leadership qualities and his impending free agency last season foisted a weight upon the Celtics that is noticeably absent this season. It’s an undeniably happier group.
It’s too easy, though, to pin the middling seasons of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown solely on the Kyrie Factor. Tatum, Brown and Marcus Smart have all seized bigger roles, but they’ve got to own their share of Boston’s struggles last season.
We should also throw in the usual disclaimer about how early it is to draw conclusions. I think Brad Stevens would readily concede that the Celtics have also benefited from what ESPN ranked as the league’s fifth-easiest schedule in terms of opponent winning percentage (.468) through Sunday’s games.
But the opening-month returns in Boston are certainly encouraging. As much as Brown resisted my attempts in October to paint all that time he spent in China with Walker, Tatum and Smart as a huge head start for the post-Kyrie Celtics, it sure appears to have helped.
Q: How antsy is Dallas is to bring in a bona fide third star? A lot of voices around the league seem to think it’s a necessity, but this obsession seems ill-conceived, especially when talking about Dallas. The Mavericks have a plethora of solid role players, like Delon Wright, Jalen Brunson, Tim Hardaway Jr., Seth Curry. — Andrew Hudgins
Stein: I don’t sense that the Mavericks are antsy at all in this regard. They believe they can make the playoffs as constructed and won’t rush the search for the so-called Next Michael Finley to complement the modern answer to Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.
If there is any uneasiness in Dallas at the moment — meaning within the organization — it centers on the ups and downs of Kristaps Porzingis’s comeback and trying to fast-track some chemistry in the former Knick’s partnership with Luka Doncic.
The Mavericks aren’t going to worry about a third star until they have a clearer picture of how Doncic and Porzingis will function at their peak as a duo. And they are still figuring things out.
As covered last week, Dallas wants to deploy Porzingis differently than he has ever been used, asking him to keep himself stationed beyond the 3-point line for long stretches and make floor-spacing a nightly priority. It has been a significant adjustment for Porzingis, who is also still getting his legs underneath him after missing 20 months after a serious knee injury.
You’re right about the supporting cast, though. Coming into the season, I remember hearing a lot of skepticism from rival talent evaluators about dependable depth being a problem for Dallas in its quest to return to the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. I frankly questioned it, too. That hasn’t been a problem yet.
The Mavericks have a number of quality role players. They could certainly use an additional shooter or two, but who couldn’t?
Portland’s signing of Carmelo Anthony will take the number of active players from the league’s 2003 draft class from two to three. The No. 1 overall pick LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers) and No. 51 selection Kyle Korver (Milwaukee) are the only others still playing. Anthony was chosen third among 60 draftees.
James Harden is averaging 39.2 points per game for the Rockets this season — despite shooting what would represent a career-low 34.0 percent from 3-point range. Harden’s heavy usage inevitably turns some fans off, but it’s difficult to quibble when the Rockets — who began the season with no shortage of skeptics after trading for Russell Westbrook — have won eight games in a row.
Only twice has a player averaged 40 points per game or better for an entire season: Wilt Chamberlain both times in 1961-62 (50.4 P.P.G.) and 1962-63 (44.8 P.P.G.)
The hosts for four last-chance qualifying tournaments for the Olympic men’s basketball tournament in Japan next summer, as chosen by FIBA, are Croatia, Lithuania, Serbia and Canada. Each of those four countries will host a six-team group that will send its winner to Tokyo. The draws for the four mini-tournaments will be held by FIBA on Nov. 27.
The eight countries that have already claimed spots in the 12-team Olympic men’s basketball field are: Argentina, Australia, France, Iran, Nigeria, Spain, the United States and the host Japan.
A bonus sixth entry this week: Sacramento (0-5) and Indiana (0-3) combined for an 0-8 start after the teams shared a preseason trip to faraway India — but both clubs have rallied for a 13-5 record since. The Kings are 5-2 this month, and the Pacers have won eight of their past 11 games despite their ongoing wait for the return of the All-Star guard Victor Oladipo. A knee injury has sidelined Oladipo since Jan. 23.
In José Mourinho, Tottenham Takes a Leap of Faith
José Mourinho has been keeping himself busy. It has been almost a year since he finally checked out of the Lowry Hotel, his tumultuous, compelling and not entirely unsuccessful time at Manchester United at an end. He had not necessarily planned a sabbatical, though by the time he left Old Trafford, he rather gave the impression he might welcome one.
Still, Mourinho is not the sort to sit on his hands. He started to appear as a studio guest on beIN Sports in the spring, sparring with his old foe, Arsène Wenger, across the desk on Champions League nights. Then, last summer, he agreed to a more permanent arrangement to appear on Sky Sports’ coverage of the Premier League.
He has agreed to a number of promotional gigs, too, most recently an advertising campaign for a bookmaker in which his bit centered on highlighting how frequently the bookmaker paid out on wagers. “I know what it takes to be special,” he intoned. Winning a jackpot, the joke went, is so common that it is not special at all.
It is strange to think, really, that it is 15 years now since Mourinho came up with that line in his inaugural news conference in England. Even after all this time, that phrase — the Special One — is still indelibly associated with him. It is his public persona, both self-styled and externally imposed, both his catchphrase and his nickname, an accepted substitute for his name when newspapers indulge in elegant variation.
It has survived the unhappy denouements of his last three jobs: at Real Madrid, a return to Chelsea, and then United, three clubs at which he lost first his players’ faith and then control. It has endured an ever-decreasing trophy return and his failure to live up to his own guarantee of success. It has lasted even though, rather like Neil Armstrong, he never actually said it. “I think I am a special one,” was the direct quote.
It has done so because English soccer is addicted to Mourinho — hopelessly, forlornly, destructively in love with Mourinho, unable to form a lasting bond with anyone quite so intensely as Mourinho.
His glittering record, of course, explains part of that fixation, but there is something else, too. Mourinho bridges the divide between the old conception of what a manager should be — an omniscient potentate, his fingerprints on every aspect of day-to-day life at a club, not answerable to a sporting director or a recruitment committee — and the more modern vision of what one should look like: handsome, charismatic, all brooding intensity.
He is box office, too, the quality the Premier League prizes above all others. He is a recidivist for mind games — that puerile playground taunting that falls somewhere between boxers’ trash talk and a movie trailer — and, when no particular foe presents themselves, he is more than capable of arguing with himself, his players, even his owner. There is nobody better at keeping the plotlines bubbling in a quiet week.
And so it was inevitable that, at some point, Mourinho would be a participant once more, not merely an observer. Mourinho fluttered his eyelashes at Arsenal, where Unai Emery is embattled, but it is Tottenham who seduced him first, jettisoning Mauricio Pochettino only months after he took Spurs to the Champions League final. Daniel Levy, the Tottenham chairman, has always had eyes for Mourinho, by all accounts. Of course he has. He is only human.
The fit is not, on the surface, an obvious one. Mourinho has always had nothing but contempt for those of his peers who talk airily of philosophy and long-term planning; he separates the world into people who win — him, and a couple of others who he is willing to tolerate — and everyone else, who doesn’t. (He and Pochettino are close, though his predecessor always seemed to fall into the latter camp.)
At United, Mourinho fell out with his superiors over a failure to invest heavily in the squad. Though he resents the idea that he does not develop young players, he has always been plain in his belief that what matters most is winning now.
Spurs, where Levy is famously parsimonious, refusing to approve moves for anyone too old to maintain a resale value, where several current players are considering their next move, and where Pochettino had identified a need for a rebuilding job, does not immediately look to be a natural home for the new boss.
The appeal, by contrast, is easier to comprehend. For all the progress Pochettino made, transforming Spurs into a genuine contender both domestically and in Europe, he did not win a trophy. That is one area where Mourinho cannot be questioned. He has won everything: three Premier League titles, two Champions League trophies, La Liga, an unprecedented treble in Italy.
The question mark is how relevant any of that is now. Since 2012, he has won one Premier League, two League Cups and the Europa League (a competition he had previously disdained). It is better than most coaches have done, of course, but it is one national championship in seven years. Mourinho is, undoubtedly, the finest coach of his generation. What is not clear, at this point — and what his time at Spurs may answer — is whether that is the current generation or not.
Levy has gambled that Mourinho is not yesterday’s man, but that is not the only risk he has taken in appointing him. There is another, one that has a resonance beyond Tottenham, beyond London, beyond this season.
Levy has made, in his mind, a cold, calculated business decision — the sort he is employed to make — but he has done so in an environment that is neither. For more than a decade, Mourinho has been Spurs’ foe, both at Manchester United and, in particular, at Chelsea.
Tottenham has not always been the chief target of his animosity — Mourinho regards Liverpool, in particular, with much more consistent spite — but his association with one of the club’s great rivals means there has never been much affection. When Pochettino’s Spurs beat Mourinho’s United at Old Trafford last year, the Spurs fans taunted him that he was “not special any more.” “They didn’t have that song when we beat them at Wembley a couple of months ago,” he replied.
Now, those same fans are being asked to sing his name, to throw their weight behind his team, to assume that their enemy has always been their friend, that we have always been at war with Eastasia. They are being asked to reassess their understanding of reality, to wipe out 15 years of enmity, to accept what once would have seemed unthinkable.
And they are not the only ones: Chelsea fans, too, some of whom remain faithful to him, despite all the heartbreak, must make the reverse journey. Mourinho has said, previously, that he would never coach Spurs, such is his fealty to Chelsea, the club that first won his heart in England.
In the soap opera of the Premier League, they too are being asked to act like everything that came before was just a dream. Both are being asked to test their loyalty to the limit, and all because, when any elite club in England starts to struggle, thoughts inexorably drift to Mourinho, to the Special One, to a love that conquers all, an addiction that cannot be beaten.
12 Best Anxiety Apps If You’re Freaking Out RN
Christmas with Mozart — Classical Music
UK’s Prince Andrew To Step Back From Public Duties After Jeffrey Epstein Furore
Primitive Technology — Eating delicious — Smart boy catch and cooking Crab
Trade war outcomes are hard to predict, but politicians are not
Sri Lanka attacks: Church bomber ‘touched young girl’s head’ before deadly blast — World News
- Tech8 месяцев ago
Primitive Technology — Eating delicious — Smart boy catch and cooking Crab
- Politics6 месяцев ago
Trade war outcomes are hard to predict, but politicians are not
- Politics7 месяцев ago
Sri Lanka attacks: Church bomber ‘touched young girl’s head’ before deadly blast — World News
- Sports7 месяцев ago
Internet of Things Forecast Book 2018