Report: Rockets discussed firing Daryl Morey after Chinese backlash from Hong Kong tweet
The Houston Rockets have reportedly discussed firing Daryl Morey after receiving backlash from China over the general manager’s tweet about protests in Hong Kong.
Morey and the Rockets are in Tokyo for a two-game exhibition series against the Toronto Raptors in Saitama, Japan. On Friday night, Morey sent a tweet that included a graphic saying “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta immediately distanced the team from the tweet.
Interesting situation going on with Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, right now:
– Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong.
– Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, quickly distanced the team from the tweet, which has a big Chinese fanbase.
– Morey’s latest tweet has been ratioed by Chinese users. pic.twitter.com/5pEHPudZ58
— Olgun Uluc (@OlgunUluc) October 5, 2019
Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
Protests have been ongoing in Hong Kong over an extradition bill that has many in the area concerned about their political autonomy and influence from the Chinese government.
Morey’s next tweet was innocuous, but he was still ratio’d on Twitter — meaning he was met with negative response from angry people.
The NBA does big business in China, and the Rockets are a favorite team in the country thanks to the time Yao Ming spent with the organization.
The Chinese Basketball Association, several Chinese businesses, and Tencent Holdings — the NBA’s digital rights holder in China — have all denounced Morey’s comments and moved to suspend or sever ties with the Rockets.
The Ringer’s John Gonzalez reported on Sunday that the Rockets have discussed firing Morey in response to the backlash.
Fertitta even liked some comments on Instagram suggesting Morey be fired.
— Alykhan Bijani (@Rockets_Insider) October 6, 2019
USA Today’s Sam Amick says talk of Morey’s job being in jeopardy is probably inaccurate.
Two sources with knowledge of the Rockets' ownership thinking strongly refute the Ringer report indicating that the GM Daryl Morey's job is in jeopardy as a result of the Hong Kong tweet-China situation. That being said, it's undeniably a mess.
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 6, 2019
Fertitta did support Morey in a statement given to ESPN.
“I have the best general manager in the league,” Fertitta said. “Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that the organization has no political position. We’re here to play basketball and not to offend anybody.”
Morey, 47, has been the Rockets’ general manager since 2007. He later issued 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.
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