Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters wasn’t up long, but its impact remains in force.
This weekend, Lakers and Nets players met with Adam Silver in China for an unsurprisingly contentious meeting, and now ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski may have had his Chinese studio show canceled as well. Woj’s offense: liking Morey’s tweet.
The show in question, Woj in the House, is described thusly by ESPN:
“His bi-weekly show, “Woj in the House,” airs in China via a partnership with Tencent and has quickly become the most watched basketball show in the world.”
According to Deadspin’s Laura Wagner, that show has now been canceled.
Update (2:15 p.m. ET): A source with knowledge of the situation confirms Tencent has told ESPN that it will no longer broadcast Woj in the House.
This is obviously the exact sort of thing that ESPN attempted to avoid by issuing a memo to staff in the wake of Morey’s tweet, instructing shows to avoid political discussions over China and Hong Kong. Neither ESPN or Wojnarowski offered a comment.
The New York Times reported late last week that the Chinese government had begun moving to quell the anti-NBA sentiment it had been flaming, for a predictable reason: it was elevating the Hong Kong issue to a level of prominence it likely wouldn’t have attained on its own.
Whether or not Woj in the House is truly the most-watched basketball show in the world, China absolutely has a massive base of NBA fans, and some or many of them might care more about being able to watch the sport than they care about China maintaining a tight grip on Hong Kong. Maybe this is a scenario where once things calm down a bit, Tencent will go back to business as usual.
The idea that Woj would in any way face ESPN consequences, though, is remote. He liked a tweet. He’s Woj. That’s probably enough.
ESPN PR reached out to Awful Announcing to dispute the report, directing attention to this statement:
In regards to the Deadspin report that China’s Tencent has canceled “Woj in the House,” because Adrian Wojnarowski liked Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong tweet, ESPN said, “No one at ESPN has been informed by Tencent that they have canceled the show.”
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) October 14, 2019