NBA draws bipartisan political condemnation for yielding to China over Rockets GM's tweet

Jack BaerYahoo Sports Contributor

The National Basketball Association showed Sunday where it stood on the matter of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey and the backlash against his now-deleted tweet in support of a free Hong Kong.

The league released a statement ceding that Morey’s tweet — which included a graphic reading "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong." — had “deeply offended” the league’s Chinese fans and did not represent the views of the Rockets or NBA.

The full statement:

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We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and 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.

The statement came amid a massive financial backlash against the Rockets in China, and was a clear attempt to isolate the controversy to Morey without punishing him, lest the retaliation reach the rest of the league.

Several politicians weren't happy with the NBA's handling of a pro-Hong Kong tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey. (Photo by John Rivera/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)
Several politicians weren't happy with the NBA's handling of a pro-Hong Kong tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey. (Photo by John Rivera/Icon SMI/Icon Sport Media via Getty Images)

The league’s evaluation of supporting the Hong Kong protests — which police have responded to with force that is “clearly excessive, violating international human rights law” according to Amnesty International — as deeply offensive and the perception that the league was conceding the matter to protect its significant financial presence in China led to condemnation from politicians on both sides of the aisle.

Politicians criticizing the league included several senators, house representatives and presidential candidates, including both U.S. senators from Texas. Among the league’s defenders was new Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai, the only Chinese majority owner in the NBA.

Politicians denounce NBA’s statement on China and Rockets GM

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also voiced her opinion by retweeting a post calling the NBA’s handling of the matter as “shameful and cannot stand.”

Senator request meeting with Adam Silver

Florida senator Rick Scott took the condemnation a step forward Monday morning by announcing that he is requesting a meering with NBA commissioner Adam Silver to discuss the league’s involvement in China.

Nets owner weighs in on Morey situation

In a lengthy open letter, Tsai defends the anger directed against Morey as a product of a painful Chinese history, which should apparently allow them to treat Hong Kong protesters as a “separatist movement” that must be suppressed. He questionably claims that “1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united when it comes to the territorial integrity of China and the country's sovereignty over homeland.”

Tsai also says Morey apologized for the tweet, which is untrue. Morey merely said he did not intend to offend Chinese fans and that the tweet doesn’t represent the Rockets and NBA.

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