Speaking in NY at an event organized by Time magazine, Silver emphasized what he described as his league's commitment to free speech, even at the potential cost of an ever-growing foothold in the lucrative Chinese market.
Following the October 4 social-media post by Daryl Morey, general manager of the National Basketball Association team the Houston Rockets, in which he expressed solidarity with the people of Hong Kong and their "Fight for Freedom" against communist China, an incensed Beijing retaliated by threatening to end its lucrative relationship with the NBA.
Silver said the word "regrettable" referred to the reaction of the Chinese government and its people, not the tweet itself.
"The losses have already been substantial", Silver said, speaking at the TIME 100 Health Summit.
Silver said he has been traveling to China for the past 15 years, and felt the league had made significant inroads in the country that could now be undermined by the controversy.
"I have regret much of that was lost".
As of right now, National Basketball Association games aren't back on the air in China, Silver said at the conference, where he mostly spoke about mental health.
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"Yes, we do have freedom of speech, but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you are not thinking about others and only thinking about yourself", James said.
"The financial consequences", he added, "have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic".
Silver again tried to walk a fine line between free expression and the league supporting a particular position.
Beijing's response to Morey's comments sparked USA accusations that Beijing was using access to its vast market as leverage to dictate public dialogue in other countries.
"But if people believe we shouldn't be engaged in commerce in China. Look, I'm all for money, I'm all for capitalism, but they're whining they might lose a little money from China", he said.
"We're in the middle of negotiating a trade agreement", Silver continued.