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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Basketball

Report: ESPN memo told shows to avoid political talk about China, Hong Kong

ESPN

An ESPN internal memo advised those who participate on the network’s talk shows to avoid talking politics about China and Hong Kong when discussing the Daryl Morey/Houston Rockets situation, according to a report.

Deadspin published a story on Tuesday about the matter that included information about the internal memo.

According to the story:

“Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that any discussion of the Daryl Morey story avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong, and instead focus on the related basketball issues. The memo, obtained by Deadspin, explicitly discouraged any political discussion about China and Hong Kong.”

This policy should come as no surprise. One of new ESPN president Jimmy Pitaro’s first items of business upon taking over the position was to establish a firm policy of personalities avoiding political talk. Host Dan Le Batard was one of the few who challenged that policy with comments he made during the summer.

Furthermore, it’s not hard to see why ESPN would want its on-air personalities to avoid getting into the subject. ESPN is owned by Disney, which does business in China, including having a Disneyland in Shanghai. They and the NBA are TV partners and have worked hard to develop business relationships in China that they’re trying not to ruin. And like many big businesses, they’ve chosen to appease the communist country in an effort to preserve business relationships rather than stand up for democracy and human rights/freedoms.

Video shows Rockets artwork being painted over at basketball court in China

Daryl Morey

The fallout from the controversy that was sparked by Daryl Morey’s tweet about the protests in Hong Kong has been far-reaching, and several fans and entities in China have been distancing themselves from the Houston Rockets.

China’s state-run CCTV and Tencent, the NBA’s exclusive digital partner in China, have suspended broadcasting and streaming for the two preseason games that are being held in the country. We’ve also seen some smaller-scale distancing from the NBA and the Rockets, such as this video showing Rockets logos and murals of Houston players being painted over at an indoor gym in Shanghai:

The vast majority of the media in China is controlled by the government, which is why Brooks Melchior of SportsbyBrooks.com notes that the video may have been propaganda. Still, it shows how angry the people of China are over the situation.

The protests Morey showed support for have been taking place in opposition to an extradition bill that has many in the Hong Kong area concerned about their political autonomy and influence from the Chinese government. Some of the demonstrations have turned violent, which is why Chinese officials and many people in China are angry Morey supported them. Other are angry that the NBA has tried to distance itself from Morey when he was arguing in favor of democracy.

The NBA has issued multiple statements addressing the situation, with commissioner Adam Silver reiterating on Tuesday that the league supports Morey’s right to freedom of speech but regrets that so many were angered by his tweet.

Adam Silver issues new statement on situation between NBA and China

Adam Silver

The original statement that NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued in response to Houston Rockets general manager Darryl Morey’s tweet about Hong Kong left many fans outraged, and the league is now trying to clarify its stance.

On Sunday night, the NBA issued a statement acknowledging that Morey’s tweet supporting the protests in Hong Kong “offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.” The statement said the league respects the history and culture of China but also supports Morey’s right to have an opinion and express it, even if the opinion is not shared by the NBA or the Rockets.

The reaction to the initial statement inspired Silver to clarify the NBA’s stance with a new statement on Tuesday morning. He said he understands the original statement left people “angered, confused or unclear on who we are or what the NBA stands for” but insisted the league’s motivation “is about far more than growing our business.”

The protests Morey showed support for have been taking place in opposition to an extradition bill that has many in the Hong Kong area concerned about their political autonomy and influence from the Chinese government. Silver said the NBA simply cannot operate in a way that regulates what players, employees and team owners say about political issues.

The NBA generates a big portion of its business from China, which is why Morey’s tweet has sparked a major controversy for the league. There was even evidence that the NBA issued two different statements to appeal to both fans in the United States and China, which is why Silver put out a new press release on Tuesday.

Watch: Marcus Morris ejected from preseason game with ruthless plays

Marcus Morris Justin Anderson

Marcus Morris was ejected from the New York Knicks’ first preseason game after two ruthless plays against Washington Wizards forward Justin Anderson.

Morris was being defended by Anderson and clearly annoyed. Morris’ response was to viciously swing his elbows at Anderson. Then Morris smashed Anderson on the head with the ball.

An ejection is just the start; the league needs to suspend Morris. That is a garbage, non-basketball play. You can’t just do that to someone who’s defending you. There’s no excuse for it whatsoever. Gregg Popovich was right when he described Morris as “unprofessional.”

Morris is in his first season with the Knicks after signing a one-year, $15 million deal with them. He had reneged on a deal with the Spurs to join the Knicks.

Darko Milicic plays first basketball game in seven years, looks absolutely massive

If you thought that you had seen the last of Darko Milicic on a professional basketball court, you thought wrong.

The former No. 2 overall pick in the 2003 NBA Draft reemerged this week for his first basketball game in seven years, suiting up for his hometown team in Novi Sad, Serbia. European journalist Marco Pagliariccio shared an image of Milicic on the court looking absolutely enormous.

Here are more images of Milicic’s return to the hardwood, which apparently ended prematurely due to a shoulder injury.

The now 34-year-old Milicic, who was listed at seven-foot and 250 pounds during his playing career, was infamously selected by the Detroit Pistons in 2003 ahead of the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade. While he was on Detroit’s 2004 championship team, Milicic bounced around six teams in nine years before his NBA career flamed out in 2012.

The last that we heard of Milicic, he was dabbling in another pro sport. That did not go too well for him though, and now he has found his way back to the friendly confines of basketball.

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.

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.