Shared from the 10/7/2019 Houston Chronicle eEdition


Morey’s job not at risk over tweet

GM, NBA attempt to defuse fallout as outcry builds in China over issue

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Rockets general manager Daryl Morey issued a statement Sunday in which he did not apologize or reverse his stance on the Hong Kong protests.

The Rockets are not considering dismissing general manager Daryl Morey and have had no discussions about such an extreme step, an individual with knowledge of the team’s response to the growing backlash to Morey’s tweet in support of protesters in Hong Kong said Sunday.

Facing on outcry from sponsors, media and basketball officials in China, a country that invests billions in the NBA, the league and Morey tried to quell the fallout, which Rockets officials acknowledge has put an extreme strain on the team’s long-standing relationship with China.

After Morey’s tweet, the China Basketball Association, chaired by former Rockets star Yao Ming, announced it would suspend all “exchanges and cooperation” with the franchise.

Chinese sponsors such as the shoe company LiNing and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Card Center both announced they were pausing their partnerships with the Rockets.

To try to ease the tension, Morey issued a statement via Twitter on Sunday.

“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” he wrote. “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.”

Soon after Morey’s tweet, the NBA released a statement from NBA chief communications officer Mike Bass regretting that the original tweet in support of the Hong Kong protests offended many in China, but also citing the league’s support of individuals to share their opinions.

“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,” Bass said in the 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.”

Morey’s original tweet was deleted, but Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta responded with a tweet denouncing the comment.

“Listen … @dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets,” Fertitta tweeted.

The Rockets have helped lead the NBA’s rapid growth in China since Yao was selected with the first pick of the 2002 NBA Draft, maintaining a strong presence in the years since Yao retired.

CCTV on Sunday, however, announced it would suspend broadcasts of Rockets games and other coverage of the Rockets in China.

Tencent, an online partner of the NBA which streams games in China, announced it will allow subscribers that purchased a single-team plan to change their “home team” designation from the Rockets. Titan Sports reported that Ten-cent will suspend all reports and broadcasts related to the Rockets.

The Chinese Consulate General spokesman in Houston condemned Morey’s tweet in a statement.

“We are deeply shocked by the erroneous comments on Hong Kong made by Mr. Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets. We have lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.”

The website The Ringer reported that the team was weighing whether to dismiss Morey, a contention that was vehemently denied, by the person with knowledge of the team’s thinking.

Protests, which have been widespread in Hong Kong since June, were initially related to a law that would allow extradition to mainland China with demonstrations since in support of a wide range of pro-democracy issues in the semi-autonomous territory.

Rockets update

Friday: Rockets 109, Clippers 96.

Preseason record: 2-0.

Tuesday: Toronto Raptors at Toyko, 5 a.m.

Tv/radio: NBA; 790 AM, 850 AM (Spanish).

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