Rockets GM Daryl Morey Apologizes For Tweet Supporting Hong Kong Protestors, James Harden Comments
Morey’s post put the NBA at odds with its largest and highest-priority international market. In the now-deleted tweet, Morey shared an image that said “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The Rockets GM issued an apology on Twitter:
“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” Morey wrote. “I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event.”
Since June, Hong Kong has been mired in massive protests over a proposed law that would allow for the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China. The bill, which was first introduced in April, was withdrawn last month. The increasingly violent demonstrations have left thousands injured and several deaths.
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
Morey went on to state that his words are only his opinion and do not represent those of the Rockets or the league. The Brooklyn Nets‘ Taiwanese owner Joseph Tsai issued an open letter regarding the entire ordeal in support of China’s perspective against the protesters. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta also denounced Morey’s comments, not the entire situation. Players were not exempt from expressing themselves either. Rockets superstar James Harden also put out a statement that came off to some as damage control.
“We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there,” Harden said. “For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love.”
The Rockets definitely are shown a lot of love in China. The team has one of its largest fan-bases in China, given that Chinese basketball star Yao Ming spent ten years in the NBA playing for Houston.
The situation puts the NBA in a tough spot, as it now has to balance maintaining favorable ties with China and not letting this comment stop any deals the league makes with Chinese sponsors or the Chinese Basketball Association.
The NBA is also very open about players, coaches and other members being able to freely share their opinions — especially on social issues like this one — without ridicule or need to apologize. While it is in the best interest for the league to side with China, some believe the NBA is going against its own standards in doing so.
The Los Angeles Lakers are set to play a two-game exhibition against Nets in China this week, something that will surely add awkwardness to the entire situation. It is unforeseen how the crowd will play out after these statements. Those two games will be part of the NBA preseason on Oct. 10 and Oct. 12.