And American sporting companies are failing this values test. The cancellation is the latest fallout from a recent tweet by Rockets GM Daryl Morey that showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
But the only alternative available to Chinese basketball fans is the CBA. A Twitter pal notes that it's rich that the world's "wokest professional sports league" has no problem with activism among coaches and players, up to and including political messages being worn on warm-up attire before the game, while the plebes who pay their salaries are forbidden to broadcast their own views during National Basketball Association events. On Tuesday, that was extended to exhibition games between the Lakers and Nets in China this week.
The NBA has been steeped in controversy after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey accidentally created an worldwide conflict when he tweeted a picture showing solidarity for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
"I do know there are consequences from freedom of speech; we will have to live with those consequences", Silver told reporters in Tokyo. The tweet soon set the team's Chinese fans ablaze.
Morey has not made any public comments since his follow-up tweets.
It's a nice hope, but as of now, Chinese businesses are pulling away from ties to the league.
Here's the thing: Twitter isn't officially available in China.
The NBA's account is followed by almost 42 million people on leading Chinese platform Weibo, while the most popular American team in China - the Golden State Warriors - has more than 8.5 million followers. Hong Kong protesters allege they have been routinely subjected to police brutality, and the Hong Kong Police Force has repeatedly rejected calls for an independent investigation of the use of force.
Some Chinese fans have asked for streaming subscription refunds from exclusive service provider Tencent, which halted broadcast of Rockets games after the Morey tweet.
The NBA's reaction? The league initially looked like it was throwing Morey under the bus, saying it was "regrettable" that the tweet had "offended" Chinese officials and hoop fans. Future broadcasts may not go so far as to highlight the actual political machinations of the Chinese government.
These NBA stars have found a lot to disagree with America about. The NBA controversy also comes against the backdrop of the U.S. "As an American-based basketball league operating globally, among our greatest contributions are these values of the game".
"I watch the way that Kerr and Popovich and some of the others were pandering to China, and yet to our own country, it's like they don't respect it", Trump said.
Speaking at a press conference in Japan, where the Rockets are playing exhibition games this week, Silver said variously that Yao was "extremely upset", "extremely unsettled" and "extremely hot". "We simply could not operate that way".
It feels easy to argue that Blizzard's "sole discretion" has been severely miscalculated. "They were concerned about the increasing level of Chinese influence in the Hong Kong government". Banning and taking prize money from the competitor in this way is about as stupid as it gets.
So far, most of the league's worldwide partners in China have stayed silent.