Seven Word Tweet

Daryl Morey’s seven word leads to the NBA’s worst nightmare.

Connor Parrish, Sports Editor

A seven-word tweet has turned into the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) worst nightmare.

The NBA is very popular in China. The frenzy in China has gotten to the point where the NBA has poured in billions of dollars in China, through building basketball courts, broadcasting, and scheduling preseason games in China to show off their biggest stars. During the 2019 NBA preseason, the NBA sent four teams to China for preseason games featuring the Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets, and the Los Angeles Lakers. The reason the NBA treats China so well is that China currently makes up ten percent of the league’s current revenue and is projected to increase to 20 percent by 2030, according to CNN Business. China has poured in over 4 billion dollars into the NBA; whereas, the average NBA team cost around $1.9 billion.

Oct. 4 

Friday, Oct. 4  was the start of the NBA controversy with a tweet heard around the world. (Although, not in China, since Twitter is banned by the government.) “Fight for freedom, Stand with Hong Kong,” Houston Rockets General Manager (GM) Daryl Morey posted on his Twitter, voicing his support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests. Hours later, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta responded on Twitter “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.” 

Oct. 6 

The following Sunday, Oct. 6, reactions from China came pouring in. The Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) would suspend all cooperation with the NBA. One of China’s top sports broadcasting channels, CCTV 5, announced it would suspend Houston Rockets games, leaving 600 million Chinese basketball fans that rely on network television to watch games without access. Tencent (TCEHY) Sports, then followed, announcing it would suspend live streaming games and reports about the teams. 

Oct. 7 

On Monday, Oct. 7 the NBA put out a statement on Morey’s comments, saying they “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China. We have great respect for the history and culture in China and hope the NBA can be used to bring people together.” This statement was heavily criticized by both political parties, and President Donald Trump also criticized the NBA’s handling of the China situation saying, “He [Steve Kerr] couldn’t answer the question he was shaking, ‘Oh, oh, oh I don’t know,’” Trump said. Adding on, the President said, “He didn’t know how to answer the question, and yet he’ll talk about the United States very badly,”  while criticizing Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr’s comments about the China situation. Both Kerr and Trump have taken public shots at each other. Many other players took a shot back at Trump including Stephen Curry, Lebron James, and multiple others.

Moery soon tweeted again on his Twitter, claiming that he was speaking on his behalf and not for the NBA. “I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to China. I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation of one complicated event. I have had opportunities since that tweet to hear 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 them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.”

Oct. 8 

NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued another statement: “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say. We simply could not operate that way.” Silver also stated that China demands Morley’s firing, but Silver has stated that the NBA will not do what China says. 

Oct. 9

All 11 of China’s partners of the NBA cut ties with the association. China has also stopped airing NBA games in China and multiple other NBA related products, like commercials.

So during the NBA season keep an eye on the tension between the NBA and China.