Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has got the NBA in hot water with the Chinese government over comments supporting Hong Kong.
Daryl Morey Political Tweet Causes Controversy
By Tweeting his support for protests in Hong Kong, Daryl Morey inadvertently upset the Chinese government. They aren’t just upset, they are outraged. They are so offended that they have decided to take action. China’s state broadcaster has decided to cancel plans to air preseason games because of Morey’s tweet which has since been deleted.
Adam Silver meanwhile has said that the league is sorry for the Tweets. He did also say that he supports Morey’s freedom of speech. He said that all of the NBA’s employees enjoy freedom of speech as a right. This seems obvious to anyone from the United States but in China that’s not how things work. That last part of Silver’s statement seemed to further escalate tensions.
Silver Prepared to Live with the Consequences
This is a tricky situation that Daryl Morey has put the NBA and Adam Silver in. The NBA commissioner has no choice but to come out in support of an NBA executive. In the United States, even if half the people disagreed with Morey’s statement, as an American he would be within his rights to say them.
The fact of the matter is; Adam Silver probably agrees with Morey’s tweet if he were allowed to speak honestly. That aside, he clearly knows making such remarks would have a negative impact on the NBA’s ability to make money of the millions of basketball fans in China. His answer seems to try to play both sides of the fence and the Chinese aren’t having any of it. Chinese Smartphone company Vivo said it would suspend its business dealings with the NBA over the comment. It will be interesting to see how Silver goes about smoothing things over here.
Adam Silver Going to China to See What Can Be Done
It appears an NBA cares event scheduled for Tuesday has been canceled as a result of this. Commissioner Silver said that they planned on carrying on with their responsibilities of the event. In the end, Daryl Morey could not have known the impact his words would have. It was however not an excuse Chinese foreign ministry spokesman was buying. In his mind, if you do so much business with China, you should be sensitive to their policies.
In that sense he does have a point. Ever since Yao Ming played in Houston, the Rockets have profited from their relationship with China more than any other franchise in the NBA. For Daryl Morey to not realize that his tweet would not be well received is very naïve on his part.
Silver Has to Be Upset with Daryl Morey
Even though he can’t publicly scold him, Silver has to be upset with Daryl Morey. As a public figure and employee of the league, he has to realize the weight of his words. The fact that he is an employee of a team that is so popular in China can’t be underestimated.