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For the first time since a controversial October 2019 tweet by former GM Daryl Morey, the Rockets have returned to the airwaves in China. Per Marc Stein of The New York Times, Sunday’s game between Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers was broadcast via Tencent.
According to Stein, the only NBA team that has yet to be shown in China during the 2020-21 season is Philadelphia. Presumably, this is due to president of basketball operations Daryl Morey, who had tweeted an image to show support for a Hong Kong protest movement. That tweet from 15 months ago sparked significant backlash from Chinese interests against the Rockets — where Morey was GM — and the NBA.
With Morey no longer in Houston, it could be that the backlash is finally easing, as it pertains to the Rockets’ franchise.
Houston was arguably the most visible NBA brand in China prior to the controversy, largely due to its selection of China’s Yao Ming as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA’s 2002 draft. The 7-foot-5 center went on to have a Hall of Fame career over eight seasons with the Rockets.
After Morey’s tweet, Chinese networks ceased showing NBA content for the 2019-20 regular season, which caused a significant hit to projected revenues. However, some games began airing again during the 2020 playoffs, and the relationship between China and most of the NBA — including the Rockets — appears improved for the 2020-21 year.
Sunday's Rockets-Lakers game was broadcast in China via Tencent … Houston's first game shown in China since former GM Daryl Morey's tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in October 2019
The Sixers, Morey's new team, have not been aired in China this season
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 11, 2021