Chinese state media blasted the NBA Wednesday (October 9) for 'peddling' a quote 'secessionist pipe dream.'
It's the latest shot fired in a crisis facing the league after Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey tweeted 'Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.'
It sparked an angry firestorm in China.
The state broadcaster and tech giant Tencent have refused to air or steam exhibition games set for this week and sponsors have pulled out.
The NBA and Morey have apologized to Chinese fans but the league has stopped short of condemning him.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ADAM SILVER, NBA COMMISSIONER, SAYING: "The long held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and certainly freedoms of expression by the NBA community, and in this case Daryl Morey as the General Manager of the Houston Rockets enjoys that right as one of our employees.
What I also try to suggest is I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of in essence his freedom of speech, and we will have to live with those consequences." State-owned Global Times tabloid fired off- saying the NBA was treating the Chinese market with arrogant disregard.
It also suggested that quote, "It should remind Western media that for Chinese people, the Hong Kong riots are just like 9/11, which is horrible and can't be justified." But the backlash did not end there.
Hours later, organizers in Shanghai cancelled an NBA fan event scheduled there for Wednesday due to what it says was the inappropriate attitude of both Morey and Silver.
They also dropped an open training session.
Houston Rockets star player James Harden threw his support behind the NBA Commissioner after a training session in Tokyo.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) HOUSTON ROCKETS PLAYER, JAMES HARDEN, SAYING: "We all have freedom of speech, that is the world we live in.
Everyone should (say) how they feel and their thought process, be able to speak it.
Obviously some people are going to feel some type of ways, others are going to agree.
That is just the world we live in.
I am here for Adam Silver." Meanwhile, Chinese state media also set their sights on another major American export , Apple, over allegations it aided Hong Kong protesters.
They argue the company allowed an app in Hong Kong app store that tracks the movement of police around the city.
It didn't name which app- but it says it's been used by the city's protesters.
All that controversy is brewing as the U.S. and China prepare to sit for major trade negotiations later this week.