Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out a thought on Friday night, and by Sunday, his employer and the league in which his team plays went into full apology mode. With the original thought being about China and their billions of fans and dollars being spend on NBA products, hopefully Morey’s mistake can be a lesson to others in the NBA as well as the other sports leagues who are interested in doing business with China.
1/ 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.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
The words “Fight For Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” was what Daryl Morey tweeted out Friday, the thought, put into seven words, were referring to the pro-democracy protests taking place against the Chinese government as the Houston Rockets arrived to play some preseason games in Asia. Before long, sponsors of the team located in China pulled their advertising dollars from the Rockets, and a company that just signed a $1.5 Billion deal to steam NBA games in China said it would cease showing Houston’s game on its service. Along with the financial fallout, Morley’s comments touched the diplomatic community when the Chinese Consulate General in Houston said it was “deeply shocked by the tweet and the Rockets’ GM should, “correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.”
Sources: In response to social media events over weekend, China (Chinese Basketball Association) has canceled NBA G League’s planned exhibition games between Rockets affiliate (Rio Grande Valley) and Dallas Mavericks affiliate (Texas) scheduled later this month in China.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 7, 2019
According to the enclosed report from @JohnGonzalez of The @ringer: "Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him" in the wake of GM Daryl Morey's pro-Hong Kong tweet and the ensuing fallout in China https://t.co/tOb2Z45d9l
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 6, 2019
In part of his apology statement issued Sunday Daryl Morey said, “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,” which, loosely translated, really means, “Shit, I didn’t think I was going to cost my employer or the NBA any money or viewers by talking about something I shouldn’t be talking about, I’m sorry.”
The words even forced James Harden to apologize and say, “We love China” on Monday.
So here’s the lesson for anyone working in the NBA who is even thinking about tweeting comments about China: The league you work in has chosen to take the money of the world’s biggest marketplace and overlook all the things that country’s government does to the same people you want to become fans of your league. As a result, DON’T EVEN THINK about tweeting out any thoughts, feelings or opinions, no matter how well informed they may be, about China; because to the NBA their money is as green as anyone else’s.
James Harden just apologized to China because Rockets GM Daryl Morey supported democracy. Let me repeat this, one of the NBA’s top stars just apologized to a brutal communist dictatorship because an American said he supports democracy. The NBA is a disgrace.
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 7, 2019
It is a shame that Adam Silver is so willing to let NBA players speak out about social issues here in the United States; but when someone upsets the apple cart by talking about things happening in another country (things that most people agree needs to be changed) that he and his league take a different approach to how they deal with things. Perhaps the lesson for the NBA here is to wait until it is safe for people to discuss things BEFORE you start taking money from that country; otherwise you enable that government to continue to do the things that you are telling employees from the NBA they can’t talk about.
NBA statement on the Houston Rockets-China-Hong Kong situation… pic.twitter.com/kfJCmg0N62
— Sam Amick (@sam_amick) October 7, 2019
Seven words on social media made the Chinese government nervous, think about that. Then think about much the NBA could do, rather than what they actually did in response to those seven words.