Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors handles the ball against the Los Angeles Lakers during a pre-season game on October 18, 2019 at Chase Center in San Francisco, California.

Noah Graham

National Basketball Association star Stephen Curry said basketball remains an important vehicle for sparking conversation and driving progress, even as the league continues to suffer the consequences of political fallout with China.

The Golden State Warriors player told CNBC on Thursday that conversations can become “tricky” when politics is involved, but he insisted that the U.S. basketball league will continue to speak out on key global issues.

“Guys in the league are championing so many issues, not only domestically but across the world,” Curry told CNBC’s Nancy Hungerford.

“Basketball is a vehicle to help those conversations to start and to continue and hopefully make progress,” he added.

The NBA has long enjoyed a reputation as one of sport’s more outspoken voices on social and political issues.

That stance came to a head in October, however, when the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for Hong Kong activists who have been locked in monthslong anti-government protests.

The tweet was met by strong opposition from China, prompting Morey to walk back his remarks, but that did little to stem the outflow of Chinese partners or dwindling viewership numbers.

Curry on Thursday became the latest NBA figure to reiterate the league’s resolute position. Golden State Warriors’ president and COO, Rick Welts, previously told CNBC the league is steadfast and won’t bar players or management from speaking out.

“I think that’s the one thing we try to do as NBA players: Be who we are, speak on what we know,” said Curry.

He  insisted, however, that the league continues to foster strong relations with its international markets. The top-earning player was recently in Japan, one of the league’s fastest growing markets, to promote the sport.

“Every time one of us goes to China and gets to celebrate the game, or goes to Japan and gets to celebrate the game, I think it does so much good and that’ll only continue, for sure,” he said.

Curry has been out of the game since late October after suffering a hand injury. He told CNBC he hopes to be back on the court “sooner than later,” but did not give a specific time frame.

Read More