NBA apologizes to China for manager’s Hong Kong tweet…bipartisan fury erupts

(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

The NBA’s apology over a “regrettable” comment on China by the Houston Rockets’ general manager scored a wave of backlash and criticism.

U.S. lawmakers, journalists and social media users slammed the NBA — already a controversial organization thanks to politically outspoken players — after it issued a statement seeking to smooth over the rift created by Daryl Morey after he tweeted support for thousands of Hong Kong protesters, sparking immediate backlash from China.

“Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” he tweeted on Friday in support of the demonstrations, many of which have turned violent in the last few days as the government’s ties to Beijing are being protested.

Though Morey deleted his tweet and soon issued an apology, the Chinese Basketball Association suspended ties with the Rockets. The Chinese Consulate in Houston also reportedly condemned the tweet in a letter to the team.

Morey tweeted that he did not intend “to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China.”

Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta denounced Morey’s original tweet.

It was soon clear that Morey’s job could be in jeopardy over his now-deleted comment.

The NBA soon issued a statement on the tweet saying that it does not stand by the tweet.

“While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them,” the statement read. “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.”

But that statement drew the ire of many more on social media who were appalled at the “gutless” response.

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley slammed the NBA in a tweet while referring to China’s many human rights abuses.

Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz announced he was “proud” of Morey for calling out the Chinese communist government and blasted the NBA for valuing money more than human rights.

Florida’s Republican Sen. Rick Scott called the NBA’s statement “shameful.”

California Democrat Rep. Eric Swalwell took aim at Rockets owner Fertitta, condemning his decision for “siding with communism.”

Many others on Twitter came out in defense of Morey’s truth-telling while calling out the NBA.

 

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