The premier basketball league NBA appointed a new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in China, one of its most important markets, said CNN.
The league announced that it had named veteran sports executive Michael Ma to lead its business in mainland China.
According to CNN, Ma’s appointment has something to do with dealing with the fallout from an ugly political storm last year.
This meant fixing the relationship between the NBA and the Chinese government after the league faced a backlash in the country.
Last October, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
His post, which was quickly deleted, included an image that read, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
The former British colony, now a special administrative region of China, had been dealing with political unrest following a proposed extradition law that led to a weekly protest in Hong Kong’s business districts.
Since the backlash, the Chinese state-run television network CCTV refused to aired any NBA games in the country because of that dispute.
CNN said, Ma will be the first Chinese citizen to head the organization in Beijing since its office there was set up in 2008.
Ma is no stranger to the industry. He had worked as the CEO of Endeavor China, a prominent sports talent management agency. He also worked at the NBA in New York and Beijing for more than a decade, according to the NBA.
Weisheng Chiu, an assistant professor of sport management at the Open University of Hong Kong said, rebuilding the relationship with Beijing will be the top priority for the NBA’s new China CEO.
“That’s the first task for Michael Ma, and I also think this will be the most challenging task for him,” he said.
But Ma also has an advantage because of his personal background, according to Chiu.