The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has canceled a planned exhibition game between two G-League teams. This comes as a response to a tweet sent out by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressing support for the Hong Kong protesters.
The tweet which read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” has been since deleted by Morey.
He later went on Twitter and attempted to clarify his initial tweet as well as apologize for it saying, “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.”
Yao Ming, a former Rockets player and now head of the CBA, announced that the CBA was suspending operations and cooperation with the Houston Rockets following the tweet.
NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass released a statement saying that the tweet by Morey “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable” and said the league supports individuals “sharing their views on matters important to them.”
Rockets superstar James Harden also took to social media in an attempt to apologize to the Chinese fans. “We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there,” he said, according to ESPN. “For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love.”
As of now, the CBA has yet to respond to the statements made by Bass and Harden. Many businessmen from mainland China, who have interests in the CBA were offended by Morey’s tweet.
Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the Rockets expressed support for his GM but also clarified that Morey’s statements did not reflect the views of the organization.
Fertitta later told ESPN: “I have the best general manager in the league. Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that the organization has no political position. We’re here to play basketball and not to offend anybody.”
The protests in Hong Kong have been front-page news worldwide over the last couple of months due to the violence involved between the protesters and government forces. China has been assertive over its sovereign rights over the semi-autonomous province, but around to world many people have already voiced out support for the plight and the stand of the protesters.
This friction between China and the Rockets and the NBA is a big deal. There is a billion-dollar game streaming deal with China as part of the league’s attempts to grow its global following.