By John Askounis/ email@example.com
Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, expressed his support for protesters in Hong Kong who are demanding democratic reforms via Twitter. He since deleted his post that read, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong”. However, the Texans’ lengthy close relationship with China was severely hurt from his action.
Owner Tilman Fertitta reacted posting on Twitter. “Listen Daryl Morey does not speak for the Houston Rockets,” he wrote, “Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of NBA internationally and we are not a political organization.” The Rockets reportedly considered disciplining the GM, but Fertitta ultimately told ESPN that everything is fine between himself and Morey.
The Chinese Basketball Association, CBA, informed via announcement that it intends to suspend its cooperation with the organization from Texas for the “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong” expressing its strong opposition to Morey’s tweet. Chinese basketball in general maintained close ties with the Rockets ever since the NBA franchise drafted Yao Ming, current CBA chairman, in 2002.
“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,” said NBA spokesperson Mike Bass via statement. “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 controversy comes just before the pair of friendly preseason games versus the Toronto Raptors at Japan. China and Asia are indeed an important market for the NBA, one the Rockets have greatly influenced the past decades promoting their side in the area and sporting jerseys featuring Chinese lettering.
Photo Credit: Getty Images