Rockets GM’s tweet causes uproar

By Xu Keyue Source:Global Times Published: 2019/10/7 20:23:39 Last Updated: 2019/10/8 23:19:24

Games cancelled, cooperation suspended due to wrong comment on HK

Daryl Morey Photo: VCG

The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) has cancelled four scheduled exhibition games against teams affiliated with the National Basketball Association (NBA), including two matches with a team connected to the Houston Rockets, after the Rockets' general manager voiced support for protests in Hong Kong.

The CBA announced on Monday on  Sina Weibo that it had cancelled the games scheduled for October 19 to 20 in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province. 

The cancelled games included two that were to be played against the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, which is affiliated with the Houston Rockets and competes in the NBA G League.

Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey re-tweeted a message on Saturday expressing solidarity with the Hong Kong rioters. The tweet has been deleted as of press time.

A number of the team's sponsors and partners in China, including Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Credit Card Center, the sports channel of the China Central Television and Chinese live streaming platform Tencent sports channel, expressed their objections to Morey's comments and announced on Sunday they were suspending cooperation with the Houston Rockets.

Photo: Screenshot of the website of the Chinese consulate general in Houston

China's Consulate-General in Houston on Sunday also expressed strong dissatisfaction with Morey's inappropriate comments. The consulate has lodged stern representations with the Rockets, urging the team to take concrete measures to resolve adverse effects, it said on its website. 

Morey posted two tweets on Monday, saying he "did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends" in China and "was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event."

"My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA," Morey tweeted.

NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass released a statement on Weibo saying that the NBA recognized that Morey's views have deeply offended many of friends and fans in China, "which is regrettable."

The NBA said that Morey's tweet did not represent the Rockets or the NBA.

Neither Morey's nor NBA's responses appear to have appeased the outrage on Chinese social media as neither of them have apologized. 

Weibo users, including Chinese basketball fans, said that national sovereignty is a bottom line for all Chinese basketball fans, urging the club to punish Morey.

Rockets' star James Harden became the first to apologize for Morey's comment.

"We apologize. We love China," Harden was quoted as saying by AFP on Monday in Tokyo, where the team is playing two exhibition matches this week.

"We love playing there. We go there once or twice a year. They show us most support so we appreciate them."

Chinese experts pointed out that Morley's behavior reflected a cultural arrogance in the West. 

Wang Qi, a senior Chinese sports analyst, told the Global Times on Monday that Morey and the NBA have hurt the sentiments of Chinese basketball fans while the team earns millions of dollars annually in China.

He warned the controversy may cost the Rockets the Chinese market. 

The Global Times found that no results showed up when searching products related to Houston Rockets such as jerseys on Chinese e-commerce platforms including Taobao and on Monday night.

The Rockets became well known in China after they signed Chinese basketball star Yao Ming in 2002.

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