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#pounditTuesday, November 28, 2023

Did NBA share two different statements about Daryl Morey comments in appeal to China?

Adam Silver

A Google translation suggests the NBA issued two different statements about Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong tweet — one to appeal to their fans in the U.S., and another to appeal to those in China.

On Sunday night, the NBA issued the following statement to its fans in the U.S.:

“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.”

The statement seems to say: we regret that Morey sent something that offended people in China.

However, Yiqin Fu said on Twitter that the statement the NBA shared in China condemned Morey. That statement said the NBA was “extremely disappointed” in the Houston Rockets GM’s tweet.

The New York Times’ Sopan Deb also said their Hong Kong team came up with the same translation:

We tracked down the NBA’s statement that appeared on Chinese social media service Weibo — China’s version of Twitter. We copied the entire statement into Google Translate, and this is what the translation yielded:

“We are extremely disappointed with the inappropriate comments made by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who has undoubtedly seriously hurt the feelings of Chinese fans. Morey has clarified that his remarks do not represent the position of the Rockets and the NBA. Under the values of the NBA, people can learn more about what they are interested in and share their opinions. We respect China’s history and culture with great respect. We hope that sports and the NBA, as a positive energy of unity, will continue to build bridges for international cultural exchanges and bring people together.”

In the first statement, the NBA says we regret Morey offended those in China. In the second statement, the translation says the NBA is “extremely disappointed” in Morey over his “inappropriate comments.” The two statements are much different and seem to appeal to different audiences; one appeals to Chinese people who are offended, and the other to Americans from a league that has constantly stood up for social justice.

So what is going on here? There are a few possible scenarios that we can think of:

1) The NBA issued two different statements, one to appeal to each audience in an attempt to straddle both sides of the fence

2) The Google translation is incorrect, which is possible considering translation technology is not perfect and some wording/expressions are difficult to translate

3) Weibo changed the wording of the NBA’s statement

Morey’s original tweet was sent on Friday night and contained a graphic saying he supported those protesting in Hong Kong. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta immediately distanced the team from Morey’s tweet.

After a report said Morey’s job status was being discussed, the Rockets GM shared the following statement:

“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.

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