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Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Daryl Morey, NBA issue statements in response to China backlash

Daryl Morey

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey issued a statement via Twitter on Sunday in response to the controversy sparked by his tweet about Hong Kong. The NBA also issued a statement on the matter.

While in Japan ahead of exhibition games his Rockets are playing in the country, Morey sent a tweet supporting those protesting in Hong Kong. Protests have been ongoing in Hong Kong since earlier this year and were renewed this month, even resulting in some deaths.

Morey’s tweet angered many in China, with the Chinese Basketball Association, Chinese consulate, and several businesses — including the NBA’s digital partner in the country — denouncing the GM’s viewpoint and moving to sever or suspend relationships with the Rockets. The Rockets became one of the most popular teams in China because they had Yao Ming for several years. The country’s interest and support of the Rockets provides a significant part of the value of the $2.2 billion owner Tilman Fertitta paid for the team in 2017.

About an hour after a report from The Ringer said the Rockets were considering firing Morey, the GM sent a statement on Twitter.

“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA,” Morey said.

Morey did not apologize for his tweet; instead, he said he did not intend to offend people. He also tried to separate himself from the Rockets and NBA in order to help both groups preserve business relationships with the country.

The NBA later sent this statement:

“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”

It’s unclear whether this will be enough to satisfy those in China or whether the Rockets and NBA will have to do more to preserve relationships they value and have worked hard to build.

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