Chuck Salituro, the senior news director of ESPN, sent a memo to shows mandating that any discussion of the Daryl Morey story avoid any political discussions about China and Hong Kong, and instead focus on the related basketball issues. The memo, obtained by Deadspin, explicitly discouraged any political discussion about China and Hong Kong. Multiple ESPN sources confirmed to Deadspin that network higher-ups were keeping a close eye on how the topic was discussed on ESPN’s airwaves.
On Tuesday, Antetokounmpo was asked about the current situation between the NBA and China and offered his thoughts. “I feel like in the NBA they always allow us to express our feelings," Antetokounmpo said. "Players come out, GMs come out and express their feelings. At the end of the day, the NBA wants to have a great relationship with China and with the fans.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo: "I know this situation, they’re going to solve it in a way. But what can you do? Like, I feel like the NBA gives you a great platform to express your feelings and say what you believe and what you think about situations in the world. But I know that they’re going to find a way to solve this situation. It was just a misunderstanding.”
Nike shares fell Tuesday after China's state-backed broadcaster said it would stop airing NBA games as the fallout from a tweet from the Houston Rockets general manager threatened reprisals against U.S. companies operating in the world's third-largest economy.
Jeff Zillgitt: In addition to Adam Silver's lengthy statement, he told reporters in Tokyo: "I understand that there are consequences from that exercise of, in essence, his freedom of speech. We will have to live with those consequences."
Kevin O'Connor: Adam Silver on China not airing preseason games: "It’s unfortunate. But if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important we adhere to those values." Silver added that he plans to meet with officials in Shanghai about this issue. pic.twitter.com/TAvUIy3WR0
Shams Charania: Adam Silver has released statement on league’s relationship status with China, reading in part: “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.” pic.twitter.com/A43BOAdG57
Ohm Youngmisuk: Silver: “... for those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business... It is inevitable that people around the world – including America and China – will have different viewpoints... It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.” pic.twitter.com/9TpWmuClqR
Yu Fu: CCTV announced that they will suspend all NBA broadcast, in respond to Adam Silver's support for Daryl Morey. pic.twitter.com/uuxT7N1Gzo
The broadcaster pointed specifically to Silver’s comments as the reason for its decision. “We strongly object to this statement,” the post said. “We believe that any comment that challenges China’s sovereignty does not belong in the scope of free expression.”
“Actually I don’t,” Kerr said when asked if he has thoughts on the controversy. “It’s a really bizarre international story. A lot of us don’t know what to make of it. It’s something I’m reading about like everybody is, but I’m not gonna comment further.” That’s far from the standard Kerr response on social issues. And he’s right on one point. The conflict between the people of Hong Kong and the Chinese government is complex, and speaking publicly on the topic from a place of ignorance is ill advised.
While those officials responded to Morey’s comments, Kerr made it clear the league hasn’t provided direction on how to approach the controversy. "Nobody has said anything to us from the league or from the organization about whether we can comment or not comment," Kerr said.
Anthony Slater: Steve Kerr no comments on the Morey/China/NBA situation. Says he’s been reading about it, doesn’t feel versed enough to comment. Full back and forth here.
Boiling down a highly complex issue into a paragraph or two, though, in China, this isn’t about civil liberty. According to Tsai, and others interviewed by The Athletic, it’s about national sovereignty, and about everyone playing by the same rules. Hong Kong is a part of China, and the people there should play by the same rules as the people on the mainland. Hong Kong, once a British colony, was transferred to Chinese rule in 1997. Referring to Hong Kong or Macao or any Chinese territory as anything other than part of China is a major offense to the Chinese government, which sanctions businesses that make the mistake. In the past several months, Gap, Versace, and Coach have all been rebuked by the Chinese government for doing this very thing.
Organisers cancelled an NBA Cares Brooklyn Nets community event hours before it was scheduled to take place in Shanghai on Tuesday. The Nets were set to make an appearance at the New World Experimental Primary School in Shanghai in a court refurbishment ceremony, however a few hours before, the NBA abruptly sent out an email stating the event was cancelled. When asked, a NBA China representative in Shanghai offered no explanation as to why the event was cancelled and said they would keep media updated on the event tomorrow, another NBA Cares fan event at the Oriental Sports Centre.
Reports in American media claimed the Chinese government forced the event’s cancellation. However, NBA China representatives in Shanghai said they could not confirm or deny anything regarding the reasons for scrapping the event.
The NBA, which has sought to cultivate an inclusive and progressive reputation under Commissioner Adam Silver, was accused of hypocrisy and of putting its financial interests over its ideals. “I thought the NBA was proud to be the ‘wokest professional sports league’?” wrote Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Twitter. “I guess that only applies to speaking out on American politics and social issues. … China regulating speech in America is dangerous.”
Elizabeth Warren: China is trying to use its market power to silence free speech and criticism of its conduct. In response, the NBA chose its pocketbook over its principles—and our values. We should all be speaking out in support of those protesting for their rights.
According to league figures, 640 million Chinese viewers consumed NBA content during the 2017-18 season, and the NBA’s most recent five-year extension with Tencent was reportedly worth $1.5 billion. Tencent announced that 21 million people used its service to watch the decisive game of the 2019 NBA Finals — topping the viewership number in the United States.
Kelly Iko: U.S Senator Josh Hawley’s letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver: pic.twitter.com/lE2Kb35OPa
Albert Nahmad: Adam Silver says the economic impact of Rockets/China situation is “already clear” and that there have already been “fairly dramatic consequences.” If it impacts league-wide revenue this season, it will in turn impact the 2020-21 salary cap, which is currently projected at $116M.
"I accept that it is also Chinese governments' and Chinese businesses' right to react to those words and, at least from my long-time experience in the NBA, it will take some time to heal some of these issues. "We are a platform in which people can engage and I would like to believe that for each side who believes they have a point of view here, that this engagement is positive."
Derek Bodner: In the wake of controversy surrounding Daryl Morey's comments the Sixers have mostly been focused on expressing the positive experiences they've had in China and the power of basketball as a unifying agent, avoiding any discussion about social or political considerations at play.
Speaking to Kyodo News in Tokyo ahead of a preseason game between the Rockets and Toronto Raptors in Saitama on Tuesday, Silver acknowledged the damage Morey’s tweet in support of the Hong Kong protest movement had caused the NBA’s brand in China. “There is no doubt, the economic impact is already clear,” he said. “There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have.” “I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear … that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression.”
As the Morey furor continued to rumble through NBA circles and elsewhere, Alibaba Group co-founder and owner of the Brooklyn Nets Joe Tsai released a statement which Silver called “a fairly lengthy explanation from his standpoint on why (Morey’s) words are so hurtful to Chinese fans.” “As a governor of one of the 30 NBA teams, and a Chinese having spent a good part of my professional life in China, I need to speak up,” wrote Tsai, who took control of the Nets in August. “There are certain topics that are third-rail issues in certain countries, societies and communities…Supporting a separatist movement in a Chinese territory is one of those third-rail issues, not only for the Chinese government, but also for all citizens in China.”
Responding to criticism that the NBA put its economic interests ahead of defending Morey and his right to express his views, Silver was clear. “What I am supporting is his freedom of political expression in this situation,” he said. “I am also supporting Joe Tsai. I realize, as I said again, these are complex issues they don’t lend themselves easily to social media. I can’t ultimately run the NBA based on trying to satisfy everyone on Twitter.” “For those who choose also to engage, they’ll see that we are dealing with a complex set of issues. And I will just add that the fact that we have apologized to fans in China is not inconsistent with supporting someone’s right to have a point of view.”
Nets Daily: Joe Tsai is a powerful NBA owner even if new. He paid a record $3.5B for the team/arena. He's a director of NBA China and one of two owners who control franchises in NBA, WNBA, GLeague and NBA2K plus own the team's arena. He has a big role, maybe the biggest, in resolving this.
Shams Charania: Sources: In response to social media events over weekend, China (Chinese Basketball Association) has canceled NBA G League’s planned exhibition games between Rockets affiliate (Rio Grande Valley) and Dallas Mavericks affiliate (Texas) scheduled later this month in China.
In Tokyo, where the team is playing two exhibition matches this week, Harden distanced himself from the controversy. "We apologise. We love China," he said, standing alongside fellow Rockets guard Russell Westbrook. "We love playing there. Both of us, we go there once or twice a year. They show us most support so we appreciate them."
The Rockets do not plan to discipline Morey, according to one person with knowledge of the ownership’s thinking who was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly. Yet it remains to be seen how much Morey’s apology will mollify the fans and various entities in China that expressed such loud dismay about Morey’s original Twitter post, in which he shared an image that read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — referencing the protests that have raged for months. The slogan is commonly chanted at demonstrations and has been spray-painted throughout the city.
In addition to Chinese sponsors such as the shoe company Li Ning and the Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Card Center, which both announced that they were pausing their partnerships with the Rockets, team officials faced an immediate backlash from the Chinese Basketball Association and the Chinese consulate in Houston. The basketball association announcement Sunday that it was suspending cooperation with the Rockets was particularly jarring, since the federation president is the Hall of Fame center Yao Ming, who starred from the Rockets from 2002 to 2011. Yao’s N.B.A. success made the Rockets a favorite among Chinese fans.
Chinese broadcaster CCTV has said it will stop showing Houston Rockets games as the backlash in China grows over a tweet backing Hong Kong protests. CCTV's sports channel said in a statement on its Weibo channel Sunday, October 6, that it was "strongly opposed" to the "improper remarks" posted by the basketball team's general manager Daryl Morey.
In a statement late Sunday night, Tsai attempted to bridge the intercontinental divide among fans, but reinforced the chasm that exists in how they perceive the events in Hong Kong. He referred to the protests as a “separatist movement,” a common sentiment in China but a label the demonstrators deny. He framed the movement as a matter of “territorial integrity of China,” though most protesters insist they are uninterested in independence. “I don’t know Daryl personally. I am sure he’s a fine NBA general manager, and I will take at face value his subsequent apology that he was not as well informed as he should have been,” Tsai wrote. “But the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair.”
Ted Cruz: As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protestors in Hong Kong. Now, in pursuit of big $$, the @nba is shamefully retreating. We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.
Julian Castro: China is using its economic power to silence critics—even those in the U.S. The United States must lead with our values and speak out for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, and not allow American citizens to be bullied by an authoritarian government.
Shams Charania: NBA is not disciplining Rockets GM Daryl Morey for his social media post, sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Morey also issued apology tonight.
Ramona Shelburne: New Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai has been a major asset for the NBA in managing this crisis in China. Just as he was with UCLA during the LiAngelo Ball incident.
Sam Amick: Two sources with knowledge of the Rockets' ownership thinking strongly refute the Ringer report indicating that the GM Daryl Morey's job is in jeopardy as a result of the Hong Kong tweet-China situation. That being said, it's undeniably a mess.
Marc Stein: Echoing what @Sam Amick just tweeted, one source with knowledge of the situation tells @NYTSports that Houston has "no discipline" planned for Rockets GM Daryl Morey in the wake of this weekend's Hong Kong/China Twitter controversy
Daryl Morey: I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives. I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.
Chris Mannix: Expect the NBA to issue a statement tonight addressing the controversy sparked by a tweet from Rockets GM Daryl Morey that expressed support for Hong Kong's fight for freedom.
The ongoing controversy and backlash regarding a controversial tweet about Hong Kong from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey reached high political levels Sunday when Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang weighed in. “The Chinese government banning the Rockets is a terrible move,” Yang tweeted Sunday. The response from Chinese organizations comes after Morey tweeted an image early Saturday that read, “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”
Alykhan Bijani: Chinese Consulate General Spokesperson released a statement: “We have lodged representations and expressed strong dissatisfaction with the Houston Rockets, and urged the latter to correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.”
Steve Kyler: The Tencent reaction to Daryl Morey is a major deal. Rockets are the top team in China and pull in a sizable amount of additional revenue from that. They have China only sponsors. If they are blocked, that's a major hit for the franchise.
Yu Fu: Tencent now offers "switch home team" option to Rockets fans who bought single team pass. It could be the signal that Rockets games won't be broadcasted from now on. We will see the result next week.
Andrew Bogut: Thanks @dmorey for taking some of the nmsl’s I was flooded with....! Enjoy the next few weeks anytime you post anything! 😂 #nmsl
In a later interview with ESPN, Mr Fertitta insisted that his relationship with Mr Morey remained strong. "I have the best general manager in the league," Mr Fertitta told ESPN. "Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that (the organisation) has no (political) position. We're here to play basketball and not to offend anybody."
Difference of opinions on Twitter within the Houston Rockets: after a message of support for the cause of Hong Kong by team GM Daryl Morey, Rockets’owner Tilman Fertitta has distanced himself and the franchise on the issue, claiming that “Morey does NOT speak for the Houston Rockets” and referencing to the team presence in Japan for the NBA preseason.
Tilman Fertitta: Listen.... @dmorey 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://twitter.com/dmorey/status/1180312072027947008
Olgun Uluc: Interesting situation going on with Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, right now: - Morey tweeted support for Hong Kong. - Rockets owner, Tilman Fertitta, quickly distanced the team from the tweet, which has a big Chinese fanbase. - Morey’s latest tweet has been ratioed by Chinese users. pic.twitter.com/5pEHPudZ58
February 6, 2023 | 3:23 pm EST Update
Marc Stein: LeBron James to @RealMikeWilbon just now on ESPN on the Lakers’ inability to trade for Kyrie Irving: “I can’t sit here and say I’m not disappointed (at) not being able to land such a talented (player) … that can help you win championships. … But my focus has shifted now.”
Kyrie Irving was never on the Bulls’ radar, according to a team source. Neither is Russell Westbrook, another rumored point guard that the Bulls have been linked to since November. This entire 2022 offseason was based on “continuity’’ from Karnisovas, and that remains unchanged.
The 42-year-old Spanish legend Pau Gasol, who last played with Barcelona in 2021 and who won the 2006 FIBA World Cup in Japan, has been announced as Global Ambassador for the 2023 FIBA World Cup, which will be played between Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines between August 25 and September 10.
February 6, 2023 | 3:06 pm EST Update
The Miami Heat has been receiving inquiries about point guard Kyle Lowry, and he’s now among several Heat players in play as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline approaches. The Heat initially had no interest in dealing Lowry. But the team’s position has softened recently, and Miami is now open to trades involving Lowry if the team is offered a deal it views as advantageous, according to a source in contact with the team.