China’s official basketball association says it will suspend cooperation with the Houston Rockets following a tweet by the team’s general manager in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The Chinese Basketball Association said Sunday on its Twitter-like Weibo account that Daryl Morey had made “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong” to which it expressed its “strong opposition.”
Morey’s now-deleted tweet read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
The CBA’s reaction underscores Beijing’s extreme sensitivity about foreign attitudes toward the ongoing protests in the semi-autonomous territory that have lately grown in violence. China accuses foreign parties in the U.S. and elsewhere of encouraging the demonstrations.
China’s relationship with the Rockets has been especially close because Chinese Hall of Famer Yao Ming played his entire NBA career with the team.
On Friday night, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta denounced Morey’s tweet, saying the Rockets are not a political organization.
Listen…[email protected] does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
Fertitta told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he felt compelled to publicly clarify that the Rockets do not take political positions due to the reaction to Morey’s tweet, but Fertitta stressed that he has no issues with Morey.
“I have the best general manager in the league,” Fertitta said. “Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that the organization has no political position. We’re here to play basketball and not to offend anybody.”
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.