NBA's relationship with China frayed over Hong Kong protests

Ruben Hill
October 19, 2019

The NBA is still dealing with the aftershocks of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet on October 4 that unnerved the Chinese government - with the fallout including canceled NBA events in China, lost sponsorship money for players and commissioner Adam Silver meeting with the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets that featured LeBron James and other players speaking out.

The NBA issued a statement shortly after it happened and said that Morey doesn't speak for the team or the league, and in a separate statement, Morey apologized.

But Silver pushed back and reiterated his position supporting Morey at the Time event.

Silver failed to go on to explain how the request to fire Morey was made and by whom. "There's no chance we'll even discipline him".

The NBA drew widespread criticism for its initial apologetic response to Morey's tweet, in which a league spokesman acknowledged the post had "offended so many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable".

"Not only willing [to absorb the financial losses], but we are", the commissioner said Thursday. Silver has found that social media criticism has had adverse impacts on even top-level National Basketball Association players, who not only have millions of fans, but millions more supporters of opposing teams who want to take anonymous pot shots at them.

The protestors are demonstrating against what they see as creeping Chinese interference in Hong Kong, which returned to Beijing's control 1997 under a "one country, two systems" formula meant to guarantee freedoms that are not enjoyed on the mainland.

"I think of when the world sort of rallied against apartheid...and the world came together and said we're going to boycott".

Silver said he has been traveling to China for the past 15 years, and felt the league had made significant inroads in the country that could now be undermined by the controversy.

An ESPN report Tuesday indicated that Lakers star LeBron James advocated for Morey to receive some sort of punishment. "Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do".

So, the people in Hong Kong protesting to prevent the communist regime in Beijing from running roughshod over their freedoms is a situation Americans don't understand? Naw.

Beijing's response to Morey's comments sparked United States accusations that Beijing was using access to its vast market as leverage to dictate public dialogue in other countries.

"My team and this league just went through a hard week", he tweeted. "I do not believe there was any consideration for the consequences and ramifications of the tweet. Could have waited a week to send it". "Look, I'm all for money, I'm all for capitalism, but they're whining they might lose a little money from China", he said.

"The losses have already been substantial", Silver said, speaking at the TIME 100 Health Summit.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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