NBA General Manager Tweets In Support of Hong Kong Protesters; Offends China and Chaos Ensues - Politics | PoFo

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This is actually hilarious. The NBA is huge in China, because of former NBA star Stephon Marbury playing in China, and of course, Yao Ming's career with the Houston Rockets.

The woke Rockets GM has just gone and fucked everything up to where the Chinese are pulling out of some agreements with the Rockets and maybe even with the league altogether!

On the one hand, US appears to be backing the Hong Kong protesters with the fight for our values, something something muh democracy, but then all these corporations are tangled up financially with the Chinese. What a mess!

Firestorm over Houston Rockets GM's tweet backing Hong Kong protesters over China

Firestorm over Houston Rockets GM's tweet backing Hong Kong protesters over China

Updated on: October 7, 2019 / 8:04 AM / CBS/AP

Beijing — Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tried Sunday to defuse the rapidly growing fallout over his deleted tweet that showed support for Hong Kong anti-government protesters, saying he didn't intend to offend any of the team's Chinese fans or sponsors.

A short time after Morey posted that statement, the NBA said it was "regrettable" that the deleted tweet offended many in China. It followed several companies in China, including some of the NBA's major business partners there, lashing out over Morey's original tweet.

Morey tweeted an image that read "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong," referring to the four-month-old protests in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

That led to Houston owner Tilman Fertitta turning to Twitter to say Morey doesn't speak for the Rockets, and sparked an outcry that included the Chinese Basketball Association - whose president is Yao Ming, the former Rockets star center - saying it was suspending its relationship with the team.

Other criticism came from Tencent, a major media partner of the NBA in China with a streaming deal worth $1.5 billion over the next five years and Chinese state television - both of which said they wouldn't be showing Rockets games.

It wasn't immediately clear if Morey's new tweets or the NBA's statement that followed would be enough to salvage those relationships.

The statement the NBA originally made in English had a different twist when it came out in Chinese.

The NBA said Monday on its official Chinese social media account that it was "extremely disappointed" by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's "inappropriate" tweet about Hong Kong, which "severely hurt the feelings of Chinese fans."

The Chinese-language post on the Twitter-like Weibo microblogging platform differed from the original statement in English by Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass.

Bass' original statement does not call Morey's remarks "inappropriate" nor mention "hurt feelings" - a phrase commonly used by Chinese authorities to describe perceived gaffes by foreign parties.

Chinese athletic apparel maker Li-Ning released a statement saying it was upset with Morey's tweet.

"I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China," Morey tweeted early Monday from Japan, where Houston is playing this week. "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."

NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said the league recognizes that Morey's tweet "deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable." Bass added that the league supports individuals "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," Bass said.

Earlier, Fertitta attempted to distance the team from Morey's tweet with a Twitter post of his own: "Listen.darylmorey 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."

The timing of this is particularly awkward for the NBA, whose players have often been outspoken on social issues in the United States.

China has teams in the U.S. playing preseason games this week, the Rockets are about to play two games in Japan and the Los Angeles Lakers - with one of the biggest global sports stars in LeBron James - and Brooklyn Nets are set to play Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen, China.

At a practice in Tokyo Monday, Rockets' star James Harden was contrite as he spoke standing with teammate Russell Westbrook.

"We apologize. You know, we love China, we love playing there. For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love. We appreciate them as a fan base. We love everything there about them and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as organization."

Nets owner Joe Tsai, a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, posted an open letter on his Facebook page late Sunday night saying Morey stepped on what he described as "a third-rail issue" when it comes to China and Hong Kong.

"By now I hope you can begin to understand why the Daryl Morey tweet is so damaging to the relationship with our fans in China," Tsai wrote. "I don't know Daryl personally. I am sure he's a fine NBA general manager, and I will take at face value his subsequent apology that he was not as well informed as he should have been. But the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair."

The statements from Morey and the NBA caught the eyes of lawmakers, including no fewer than four U.S. senators - Ted Cruz of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida (who criticized NBA Commissioner Adam Silver for the league's statement, apparently unaware it was made by Bass, an NBA spokesman) and Josh Hawley of Missouri, all Republicans, and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

"We're better than this; human rights shouldn't be for sale & the NBA shouldn't be assisting Chinese communist censorship," tweeted Cruz, who said he is a lifelong Rockets fan.

Hawley tweeted, "Chinese govt has a million people locked in concentration camps & is trying to brutally repress Hong Kong demonstrators - and NBA wants to "bridge cultural divides"? Cultural divides?"

Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro, a former U.S. Housing Secretary from Texas, tweeted "China is using its economic power to silence critics - even those in the U.S."

Fellow Texas Democratic presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke was even more forceful, tweeting, "The only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization of profits over human rights. What an embarrassment."

Fostering strong relationships with China has been a priority of the NBA for at least three decades.
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