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October 5, 2018

Adam Silver

Shanghai, China

ADAM SILVER: Thank you all for being here today. This is the 25th preseason game the NBA has played in China. It is our ninth game in Shanghai and our seventh year in a row where we're playing at the Mercedes-Benz Arena here in Shanghai.

I'd like to thank the Dallas Mavericks, led by their owner, Mark Cuban, and their coach, Rick Carlisle, for making this trip here to China. It is the first time the Dallas Mavericks have traveled to China. And similarly, the Philadelphia 76ers, this is also their first trip to China. They are led by their owners, Josh Harris and David Blitzer, along with their coach, Brett Brown.

I've had an opportunity to spend time with both teams over the last few days, including their owners and their coaches, and they couldn't be more excited to be here in China.

The players have had an opportunity, in addition to practicing, to get to see a fair amount of the city, to do some shopping and some sightseeing, and to take in many of the cultural sights as well.

Both groups of owners also attended a dinner hosted by Joe Tsai, who, of course, is the new owner of the Brooklyn Nets. Mr. Tsai has also joined the board of NBA China. I met with him this morning, along with our other board members, and we're looking forward to working closely with him to continue to build our business in China, particularly our media and e-commerce business, in which he has tremendous expertise.

I've also had an opportunity to spend a fair amount of time with Yao Ming. Of course, when we first played here in China 14 years ago, Yao Ming was starring for the Houston Rockets. It's amazing now to see 14 years later that he is, of course, the president of the Chinese Basketball Association.

This has been a historic year in Chinese basketball. Of course, China just received four gold medals in the recent Asian Games -- gold medals for the men's and women's five-on-five competition and gold medals for men's and women's three-on-three competition. Congratulations to all those Chinese teams.

When Yao and I met earlier today, we spoke of the tremendous opportunity to continue building the sport of basketball, working together in China, the CBA working in partnership with the NBA on grassroots programs as well as developing elite players. In addition, we're both extraordinarily excited about the World Cup of Basketball, which will be coming to China next summer.

At that point, the entire world's attention will be focused on the highest quality of basketball being played here in China.

The NBA has never been more committed to building the sport of basketball throughout China. It's amazing to see the progress that this nation has made since we first played games here in 2004. The level of basketball being played at the junior level, at the senior level, grassroots is spectacular.

Everywhere I travel in China, I see evidence of the tremendous interest in this sport, whether it's billboards that include Chinese players or NBA players who were born outside of China, whether it's the tremendous social media presence we have or the enormous exposure we have through CCTV, BesTV and Tencent. There's no doubt that the Chinese people love basketball.

Yao and I also spoke about the fact that historically sport has been used to bridge divides between cultures. Yao reminded me of the famous ping-pong diplomacy 40 years ago that was then current during that time. Yao suggested that maybe it's time to move to a larger ball. And in basketball, we can use that for diplomacy as well and to bring people closer through people-to-people exchanges. That's something both of us are very focused on.

I know all of us at the NBA are committed to continuing to build bridges by using this great sport to bring these two great nations, the United States and China, closer than ever.

And now before I answer questions, I just want to point out my new colleague Derek Chang, who is sitting in the front row of the audience. He is our new CEO of NBA China. Derek, we are very much looking forward to working with you.

And with that, I'm happy to answer any questions.

Q. You've been here many times since the first edition of NBA China Games. How do you like this year's NBA China Games, and what do you expect from tonight's game in particular?
ADAM SILVER: That's a great question. I think I've been to all of the NBA China Games since we first started in 2004. I would say, number one, the anticipation of the teams has continued to grow over the many years. I think veteran players passed down to the younger players the excitement of their trips to China. Increasingly, many of our players, non-Chinese players, travel to China in the offseason with Nike and Anta and Peak and the relationships they have here. Chinese culture has become much more familiar to our players, and I think, as a result, there's enormous excitement, especially about coming to a great city like Shanghai.

I know that, when the game starts tonight, the players recognize that the whole world will be watching them, not just the fans here in China. So while it's not a regular-season game, they know how important it is and they'll be putting on a good show tonight.

Q. We've noticed that Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki is unable to play because of injury, but we've also noticed his great popularity in China. So what's your take on his popularity?
ADAM SILVER: First of all, I had an opportunity to spend time with Dirk last night, and he is truly upset that he is unable to play today. He is dealing with a tendon issue. He was really looking forward to playing here. So let me send that to all his fans here in China, his regrets.

He has had a tremendous legacy here in China. He is one of our all-time greats. He is no doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He has had a tremendous career, and he deserves the tremendous following he has had here in China.

Q. As you said before, basketball is a very popular sport here in China. What is your take on the future of basketball in China? How will it develop?
ADAM SILVER: I'll just say basketball continues to be on a huge growth curve in China. I believe we can be the number one sport in the world. When I look at the trajectory of growth, the fact that young people, boys and girls, continue to love this sport, are playing this sport, are engaged in the sport of basketball on social media or with online games, I don't know what the limit is. It's a game that people love to play. It keeps them physically fit. It leads to strong values. And I know we share those same themes with the CBA and Yao Ming.

As I said, I believe we're still just getting started here in China.

Q. You mentioned Yao earlier in your opening remarks. He has been in a new position for more than a year and a half. As a pro sports organization leader yourself, what do you think about his performance in the new role?
ADAM SILVER: I'll just first say that I don't know of any commissioner who has had a better year. He just produced four gold medals for China in the Asia Games. I know for Yao, while he has multiple responsibilities, nothing is more important than the success of the national teams.

I know he is also focused on taking the CBA to the next level, and it's something that we have shared information on. He has told me that he has learned a lot through his involvement with the NBA, of course as a player and then even in his career after being a player. He has many close friends in the NBA: Tad Brown, who runs the Houston Rockets, or Kim Bohuny at the league office. He works with these people very closely. We're an open book in terms of sharing best practices.

Again, given what a hard worker he is, given how competitive he is, I would give him an A-plus for the job he is doing.

Q. With details continuing to seep out in Dallas about questionable behavior in the business office, what's your concern level when stuff like that continues to go? Not just in that organization, but throughout your league.
ADAM SILVER: My concern level is always extraordinarily high when you're hearing stories about any inappropriate conduct in the workplace, whether it's those allegations at the Mavericks or anywhere at our teams.

I will say that, when the investigators did their review of the Mavericks' organization, they made a decision to not make public allegations that were brought by employees who chose to remain anonymous. What they did at the end of the investigation was, in essence, shift to the new management of the Dallas Mavericks, run by Cynthia Marshall, their findings with an understanding that Cynthia Marshall, then using a more traditional human resources process, would continue to investigate particular employees and then act on them.

Part of the process, the new process we put in place with the Mavericks, was an ongoing reporting obligation to the league office. So Cynthia Marshall has been in constant contact with Kathy Behrens at the league office. We were aware of those additional allegations, and we are monitoring how they are responding to them.

To the best of my knowledge, and I haven't talked to Cynthia in the last few days, I think they're well equipped now with the new organization they put in place to do the appropriate and necessary investigations and then to act on those findings.

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