NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Chinese officials wanted Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey to be fired for his tweet supporting anti-government protesters in Hong Kong, and the league emphatically dismissed the request.
Silver also said that the league is already feeling “substantial” financial losses because of the Chinese reaction to Morey’s deleted tweet.
“Obviously, we made clear that we were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said Thursday during an appearance at the Time 100 Health Summit in New York. “We said, ‘There’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.'”
Silver also said he isn’t sure what will happen to the NBA’s relationship with China, which has been growing steadily over the last three decades.
“I felt we had made enormous progress in terms of building cultural exchanges with the Chinese people,” Silver said. “Again, I have regret that much of that was lost. And I’m not even sure where we’ll go from here.”
The league and LeBron James, one of its biggest stars, have been heavily criticized by some U.S. lawmakers for the perception that they caved to the Chinese regime. Morey has not been rebuked publicly by the league, and Silver has said that the league will support his freedom of expression.
“We wanted to make an absolute clear statement that the values of the NBA, these American values — we are an American business — travel with us wherever we go, and one of those values is free expression,” Silver said. “We wanted to make sure everyone understood we were supporting free expression.”
The Rockets were of massive interest in China, largely because of Yao Ming — the Chinese star who spent his entire NBA career in Houston….