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China expands NBA broadcasts after rift over Warriors’ China trip

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NEW YORK — Chinese state television will be broadcasting more sports highlights — including the opening game of the season between the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and the Dallas Mavericks — for the first time since last year’s rift over the Golden State Warriors’ visit to the country, CNBC reports.

China’s state broadcaster CCTV airs NBA highlights to people watching other channels. But the channel is limited to promoting the NBA in China, not the league’s games. The airing of games for the first time since last June is seen as a sign that the two sides are making progress to repair the damage of the Warriors’ trip.

The Warriors’ itinerary included a ceremony on Mount Ming, an ancient county seat in Hebei province, where they played a basketball game with the county’s youthful female players.

The event irked many Chinese people who said the team was insulting China by playing a basketball game in an historic building as its program was shown.

But Draymond Green quickly defended the choice of venue, saying it was “a great and meaningful visit.”

The NBA has been trying to increase its popularity in China, the world’s most populous country, as a driver of interest among Chinese fans. This has sometimes included notable diplomatic trips.

The Warriors had been scheduled to do a similar public event in the country last summer, but it was cancelled in response to a government request from the Chinese consulate in San Francisco, according to people familiar with the events.

The event ended up being announced less than two weeks later with a more leisurely schedule that took the team by the China Ocean Pearl Museum on the southern coast, but they still played a basketball game in the region. The NBA has not said whether the trip was part of any sort of diplomatic resolution.

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