The Chinese Basketball Association reportedly canceled a planned exhibition game between two of the NBA’s G-League teams in response to the Houston Rockets general manager tweeting support of the Hong Kong protesters.
The CBA’s reported decision comes after GM Daryl Morey tweeted about the protests, writing, "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” Several Chinese businesses and the CBA immediately suspended operations with the Rockets following the tweets.
Morey attempted to clarify his comments in a series of tweets.
“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. 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.”
He added: “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.”
The CBA, whose president is Rockets legend Yao Ming, announced it suspended operations with the Rockets following the tweet. The G-League game appeared to be a casualty of the suspension.
The NBA’s chief communications officer Mike Bass released a statement, saying Morey’s tweet “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable” and said 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.
Rockets star James Harden issued an apology Monday to Chinese basketball fans.
“We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there,” he said, according to ESPN. “For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love.”
Harden added: “We appreciate them as a fan base. We love everything there about them, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as [an] organization.”
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta tweeted that Morey’s original statement wasn’t the view of the Rockets’ organization.
“Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization,” he tweeted.
Fertitta later told ESPN: “I have the best general manager in the league. Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that the organization has no political position. We're here to play basketball and not to offend anybody.
Protests in Hong Kong have made worldwide news over the past couple of months due to increased violence between the government and those fighting for increased rights and freedom. China appears extremely sensitive to outside parties encouraging the demonstrators, especially within a group they have strong ties to.