Daryl Morey worried Hong Kong tweet would end NBA career, feels 'comfortable with what I did'

Daryl Morey, the new Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations, was concerned he’d never work in the NBA again after posting support for Hong Kong on social media last year. But he also was “comfortable” with what he did and was willing to live with the outcome, he told ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan.

Morey tweeted in support of a free Hong Kong protest group in October 2019, triggering a firestorm of pushback from Chinese authorities that negatively impacted the NBA’s status in the region and its corporate earnings. He remained the Houston Rockets general manager until officially resigning from the position in October 2020. The 76ers brought him aboard a few weeks later.

FILE - This is a July 26, 2019, file photo showing Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey during an NBA basketball news conference in Houston. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is stepping down on his own accord, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020, because the move hasn’t been announced. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)
Daryl Morey was the longtime GM of the Rockets. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Morey willing to lose NBA career for Hong Kong tweet

Morey declined to address the controversy on his way out of Houston. In a conversation with MacMullan he opened up about his fear of losing not just his job but his entire future in the league.

“In the last 12 months, I had moments where I thought I might never work in the NBA again, for reasons I was willing to go down for,” Morey said, via ESPN. “But I love working, I love what I do, and I didn't want that to happen.”

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta tried to separate Morey’s stance with that of the team and the NBA league office did similarly. The NBA has estimated it lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the controversy. Chinese authorities were calling for Morey’s dismissal and the government-run China Central Television (CCTV) refused to air NBA games until Game 5 of the NBA Finals — one year and one day after it began its ban.

Morey doesn’t seem to regret his decision to share the tweet, which included the caption “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” Via ESPN:

Asked months later if he regrets his decision to support the protests in Hong Kong, Morey paused for several seconds before responding, “I’m very comfortable with what I did.”

Why did Morey tweet in support of Hong Kong?

Morey’s tweet drew plenty of critics, including four-time NBA champion LeBron James. He said he believed Morey “wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke.”

But Morey had become friends with a number of classmates from Hong Kong while he was in business school and was hearing first-hand from them what was happening. Per ESPN, he made a conscious effort to stand in solidarity with people he knew well and who had shared real-life situations with him.

Morey, 48, was the target of plenty of hate in the weeks after his tweet and told ESPN he was “extremely concerned” during that time for the safety of his family.

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