There are fears that Chinese officials could cancel the two NBA preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets scheduled for this week in Shanghai and Shenzhen, according to the New York Times' Marc Stein.
The NBA is mired in a political controversy in China after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted last week - then deleted - a message supporting pro-democracy protesters in the Chinese special administrative region of Hong Kong.
The first game between the Lakers and Nets is scheduled for Thursday in Shanghai, with the second slated for Saturday in Shenzhen, a city located directly north of the Hong Kong border.
On Tuesday, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said it won't televise the games.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver pushed back Tuesday at the notion that the league is putting business before freedom of expression while dealing with China, a one-party totalitarian state that's home to the world's second-largest economy.
"Values of equality, respect, and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA - and will continue to do so," Silver said. "As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game."
However, Silver also said the situation has damaged the league's business relationships in China.
"This issue may not die down so quickly," he said. "I'm hoping that Yao Ming and I can find an accommodation, but he is extremely hot at the moment, and I understand it."
Ming, a former star for the Rockets, now runs the CBA. The league ended its relationship with Houston last week.
Chinese officials also canceled an NBA Cares charity event in Shangai involving the Nets on Tuesday. Silver is expected to arrive in China on Wednesday.