Former NBA player Brock Gillespie appeared on "The Story with Martha MacCallum" Wednesday and defended commissioner Adam Silver for his handling of the growing controversy surrounding the league's business interests in China.
"Adam is a good friend of mine and he's walking a tightrope here, but there's nobody better more equipped to handle the situation than him," Gillespie, who was briefly part of the Charlotte Bobcats' NBA Summer League team in 2007 before playing professionally overseas, said.
"Anyone who understands and works with the Chinese understands that saving face is the most paramount thing in that society. So, of course, they're going to have a knee jerk reaction like this."
Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tipped off the international incident last week when he tweeted a since-deleted photo in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
Houston's owner Tillman Fertitta later tweeted to say Morey “does NOT speak for” the team.
Morey also backtracked on his initial support. “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.”
NBA owners are facing a backlash for siding with deep-pocketed Beijing powerbrokers over one of their own employees, which prompted Silver to issue a statement Tuesday saying the league: “will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees, and team owners say or will not say on these issues.”
The Chinese government canceled a Brooklyn Nets event on Tuesday and state broadcaster CCTV said it would no longer air preseason games played in China due to Morey’s initial tweet.
Gillespie, who played in the NBA's developmental league as well as in leagues around the world, defended the NBA and argued that China is trying to gain leverage in future negotiations. He then blasted politicians for speaking out saying they should "stay out of this."
"I find it awfully rich that a lot of these politicians are coming out and attacking the NBA for this," Gillespie said. "When these are the same politicians that have backed communist dictatorships that have put us in unnecessary foreign wars for years and decades."