After posting a message on Twitter expressing his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong who have been demonstrating against the Chinese government since June, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey may be fired — at least according to a report by the sports news site The Ringer on Sunday. According to the report, shortly after Morey posted the tweet, which he has since deleted, the Chinese government, as well as the Chinese Basketball Association, took steps to cut ties with the Rockets, over what the CBA termed Morey’s “improper” comments.
The CBA is chaired by former Rockets star center Yao Ming, who was drafted by Houston in 2002 and played for the team until 2011 and has since been elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame. With Ming as perhaps China’s most popular athlete, the Rockets have enjoyed a large fan base in the People’s Republic of China. But the CBA and several Chinese corporations including the online sports channel Tencent which livestreams NBA games in China, quickly announced that they would no longer associate with the Rockets.
Tencent said that it would “blacklist” Morey and refuse to stream any future Rockets games, even though the franchise is rated as the second-most popular NBA team in China.
According to The South China Morning Post, Morley posted an image of protesters in Hong Kong, along with the caption, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” a slogan widely used by the anti-government demonstrators.
As The Inquisitr has reported, the government crackdown on the protesters has grown more violent in recent days, with two protesters shot by police last week, and the Hong Kong chief executive, Carrie Lam, declaring “emergency powers” there, a provision that had not been invoked in more than 50 years.
But according to a USA Today NBA writer, reporting via Twitter, sources inside the Rockets’ ownership “strongly refute” the report that Morey’s job is on the line over the pro-Democracy tweet. “That being said, it’s undeniably a mess,” Amick wrote.
Morey since posted new tweets in which he says that he did not intend to offend Rockets fans in China, but significantly, Morey did not say that he apologized for posting the original tweet.
The Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas, issued a statement quoted by The Ringer, saying that it was “deeply shocked” and calling Morey’s tweet “erroneous. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta also weighed in, according to The Ringer, taking to Twitter to declare that Morey’s tweet “does NOT speak for the Rockets,” and describing the team as “NOT a political organization.”