NBA/China controversy: Silver, Rockets, G League, Tsai

NBA commissioner Adam Silver addresses reporters as a recent press conference. File photo

The NBA is in a sticky situation, particularly when it comes to some major financial support, following a tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that expressed support for protesters in Hong Kong.

Both the Chinese Basketball Association and other businesses in China have suspended their relationship with the Rockets.

The league itself is in a tough spot, as it balances the politics associated with Morey’s tweet, as well as the potential financial fallout. Daniel Victor of the New York Times went into great detail about the league’s relationship with China and why it felt it necessary to issue a statement about Morey’s tweet.

Here’s the latest on the controversy:

  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Kyodo News that the league supports Morey. “There is no doubt, the economic impact is already clear,” Silver said. “There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have.”
  • While Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta issued a statement distancing the team from Morey’s tweet (and drew some backlash from his comments), multiple reports insist that Morey’s job is not in jeopardy.
  • Morey did make a follow-up statement in which he expressed his admiration for the team’s Chinese fans and sponsors.
  • Per Shams Charania of Stadium, the Chinese Basketball Association has cancelled a G League exhibition game between the Rockets’ and Dallas Mavericks affiliate that was scheduled for later this month in China.
  • LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers and Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets are scheduled to square off in a preseason game Thursday in Shanghai. The teams departed Monday and those games, for now, will go on.
  • New Nets owner Joe Tsai issued a statement to fans that criticized Morey. “Tsai’s framing of the Hong Kong protests as a ‘separatist movement,’ rather than a fight for civil rights and democracy, echoes language used by the Chinese government,” Luke Adams of HoopsRumors noted.