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#pounditThursday, August 6, 2020

Adam Silver: China wanted Daryl Morey to be fired

Daryl Morey

The NBA was heavily criticized for its initial response to the tweet Daryl Morey sent supporting protestors in Hong Kong, but commissioner Adam Silver says anyone who believes the league has caved to the demands of Chinese officials is wrong. If they had, Morey would no longer be the general manager of the Houston Rockets.

While speaking at the TIME 100 Health Summit on Thursday, Silver said the media coverage of the NBA’s response to Morey’s tweet and the fallout it caused was “confusing” in that he thought the league had clearly taken a “principled position.” Silver felt it was clear from the jump that the NBA was supporting freedom of speech.

“Maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat,” Silver said. “I didn’t see it as my role as the commissioner of the NBA to weigh in on the substance of the protest, but to say here’s this platform (for free expression).”

Many believe the NBA is doing all it can to protect its bottom line, but Silver said the league is willing to accept millions in losses. He said the “losses have already been substantial” from a business standpoint, and he noted how Chinese officials immediately called for him to remove Morey from his position with Houston.

“We made clear that we were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.

“These American values — we are an American business — travel with us wherever we go. And one of those values is free expression. We wanted to make sure that everyone understood we were supporting free expression.”

There’s little question the NBA has taken financial consequences into consideration on some level, and it seems like they are adapting as they realize how strongly fans in America feel about the issues in China. LeBron James has done a terrible job of living up to his self-proclaimed social justice warrior status, but others like Doc Rivers have publicly backed Morey this week. Expect things to keep trending in that direction, though some will view it as already too late.

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