NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said the league isn’t apologizing for Daryl Morey’s since-deleted tweet showing support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong — as he again defended the embattled Houston Rockets general manager.
Speaking Tuesday at a news conference in Hong Kong, Silver doubled down on his support for Morey, saying he has a right to freedom of expression.
“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees,” Silver said. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”
Morey on Friday tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,” in reference to months of heated anti-government protests there — garnering a swift rebuke from basketball officials in China.
The Chinese Basketball Association has since announced it’s cut all ties to the Rockets, while China’s state broadcaster CCTV has canceled plans to show a pair of preseason games in the country later this week. NBA streaming partner Tencent, which has a $1.5 billion contract with the league over the next five seasons, also said it would no longer show Rockets games.
“I’m sympathetic to our interests here and our partners that are upset,” Silver said at the news conference, adding, “I don’t think it’s inconsistent on one hand to be sympathetic to them and at the same time stand by our principles.”
He said he didn’t expect CCTV to nix plans to show the games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, who will play Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen.
“But if those are the consequences of us adhering to our values,” he said, “I still feel it’s very, very important to adhere to those values.”
Silver will travel to Shanghai on Wednesday and said he hopes to meet with officials and some of the league’s business partners in hopes of finding some common ground.
Basketball is wildly popular in China, thanks in part to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s co-founder Joe Tsai now owning the Nets.
And the Rockets are arguably the most favored team there — Hall of Famer Yao Ming spent his NBA career with the Houston squad and is now the president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
With Post wires