The relationship between one of the biggest sporting leagues in the world, the NBA and China seems to be rapidly deteriorating by the day. In an interview with a leading media portal, NBA commissioner Adam Silver claims that he was pushed a lot by the Chinese government to fire Houston Rockets' General Manager Daryl Morey following a recent tweet of his, which was in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. However, Silver added that there is no chance that he will succumb to Chinese demands as no strict action will be taken against Morey.
Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, set off an international firestorm with a Twitter post using a slogan used by the protesters in Hong Kong, just as the league was preparing to stage games in Shanghai and Shenzhen between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets. Morey later deleted the post.
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
Speaking at the Time 100 Health Summit during an interview with the network anchor Robin Roberts, Silver said that the games are not back on air in China. Several companies in the country denounced Morey and cut ties with the Rockets, which is one of the most popular teams in the country. The Chinese government cancelled a number of events and in turn, the NBA shut down media access to its players, which extended to a game last Saturday in Shenzhen.
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
After backlash from China, the league has also come under fire at home for its initial written response that said it was “regrettable” that Morey’s tweet “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.” American politicians and many fans accused the NBA of bowing to China’s government to preserve profits.
Los Angeles Lakers star Le Bron James received a lot of flak for his comment stating that the Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey was misinformed for tweeting in support for the freedom of Hong Kong. Some protesters in Hong Kong burned jerseys and turned images of the superstar into memes. He has since distanced himself from the issue stating he'd rather like to focus on the game and the upcoming season.