The Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in a deleted tweet showed support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong for which he was criticised by China. The Basketball star LeBron James, who is known for speaking out on social justice issues recently weighed in on the ongoing dispute and called it a delicate and sensitive situation.
James also claimed that Morey wasn't educated on the situation as many could have been harmed, not just financially but physically, emotionally and spiritually. He further added Morey should have been careful and even though people have freedom of speech, there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when one is not thinking about others and just thinking about themselves. James claimed that he and his teammates had stayed silent about the situation because they weren't informed enough about it and he has no judgment on how the League is going to handle the situation.
Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets ended this year's NBA China Games series as Scheduled in Shenzen, though there were no news conference for players or coaches before or after the contest as the Chinese state media reportedly claimed that it will not show games as they were dissatisfied by the NBA Commissioner's claim to support Morey's right to freedom of expression. Morey's original tweet that read “Fight for freedom, stands with Hong Kong” set off a firestorm in China almost immediately as it had offended many people. Morey regretted the now-deleted tweet as he in a statement apologised, saying that his intention was not to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends.
1/ 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.— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
2/ 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.— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
The league has reportedly spent years and many millions of dollars investing in China but the apology drew widespread criticism in the US. The NBA has also issued a stronger-worded statement emphasising freedom of expression in an attempt to damage control. All the 11 NBA's official Chinese partners have reportedly suspended ties. The US President Donald Trump also broke his silence about the advancing tensions between the NBA and China, targeting the coaches of the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors. He reportedly called Steve Kerr, the Warriors' head coach, a little boy and claimed that he could not even answer the questions properly, as he was so scared.
(With inputs from agencies)