Rock­ets’ man­ager’s Hong Kong com­ments anger China

The Korea Times - - SPORTS -

BEI­JING (AP) — Hous­ton Rock­ets gen­eral man­ager Daryl Morey tried Sun­day to defuse the rapidly grow­ing fallout over his deleted tweet that showed sup­port for Hong Kong anti-govern­ment pro­test­ers, say­ing he did not in­tend to of­fend any of the team’s Chi­nese fans or spon­sors.

A short time af­ter Morey posted that state­ment, the NBA said it was “re­gret­table” that the deleted tweet of­fended many in China. And all that fol­lowed sev­eral com­pa­nies in China, in­clud­ing some of the NBA’s ma­jor busi­ness part­ners there, lash­ing out over Morey’s orig­i­nal tweet.

Morey tweeted an im­age that read “Fight for Free­dom. Stand with Hong Kong.” re­fer­ring to the four­month-old protests in the semi-au­ton­o­mous Chi­nese ter­ri­tory. That led to Hous­ton owner Til­man Fer­titta turn­ing to Twit­ter to say that Morey does not speak for the Rock­ets, and spark­ing an out­cry that in­cluded the Chi­nese Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion — whose pres­i­dent is Yao Ming, the for­mer Rock­ets star center — say­ing it was sus­pend­ing its re­la­tion­ship with the team.

Other crit­i­cism came from Ten­cent, a ma­jor me­dia part­ner of the NBA in China with a stream­ing deal that is worth $1.5 bil­lion over the next five years, and Chi­nese state tele­vi­sion — both of which said they would not be show­ing Rock­ets games.

It wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear if Morey’s new tweets or the NBA’s state­ment that fol­lowed would be enough to sal­vage those re­la­tion­ships. Chi­nese ath­letic ap­parel maker Li-Ning re­leased a state­ment say­ing it was up­set with Morey’s tweet.

“I did not in­tend my tweet to cause any of­fense to Rock­ets fans and friends of mine in China,” Morey tweeted early Mon­day from Ja­pan, where Hous­ton is play­ing this week. “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.”

NBA Chief Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Of­fi­cer Mike Bass said the league rec­og­nizes that Morey’s tweet “deeply of­fended many of our friends and fans in China, which is re­gret­table.” Bass added that the league sup­ports in­di­vid­u­als “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,” Bass said.

Ear­lier, Fer­titta at­tempted to dis­tance the team from Morey’s tweet with a Twit­ter post of his own: “Lis­ten.(at)daryl­morey does NOT speak for the (at)Hous­tonRock­ets. Our pres­ence in Tokyo is all about the pro­mo­tion of the (at)NBA in­ter­na­tion­ally and we are NOT a po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

The state­ments from Morey and the NBA caught the eyes of law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing no fewer than three U.S. Se­na­tors — Ted Cruz of Texas, Rick Scott of Florida (who crit­i­cized NBA Com­mis­sioner Adam Sil­ver for the league’s state­ment, ap­par­ently un­aware it was made by Bass, an NBA spokesman), and Brian Schatz of Hawaii.

Hous­ton Rock­ets gen­eral man­ager Daryl Morey

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Korea, Republic

© PressReader. All rights reserved.