Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has found himself in some hot water this week after tweeting his support for Hong Kong in its protests for freedom against mainland China. As a retaliation, several Chinese entities — including the Chinese Basketball Association led by former Rockets great Yao Ming — have cut ties with the Rockets franchise.
Morey deleted his tweets, and on Sunday he issued a statement through his Twitter apologizing for his stepping into the political sphere. In part, Morey said that he was sorry for offending or misunderstanding the Chinese fans of the Rockets organization.
A report published by the Ringer this weekend suggested that Morey was in danger of losing his job. That report was refuted by several notable NBA writers, including Sam Amick and Marc Stein.
Via The Ringer and Twitter:
As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.
Meanwhile, the NBA released a statement distancing themselves from Morey and his comments.
Via the NBA:
“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. 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.”
Given the business implications of Morey’s support for protesters in Hong Kong, it would not be a surprise for the Rockets ownership group to have at least discussed his permanence. That’s different from his job actually being in jeopardy in a serious way. This amounts to everyone involved — the Rockets, Morey, and the NBA — backtracking their way to protect their business interests. It’s not surprising.
The whole situation is a mess, and it was an arena that Morey probably didn’t think he would be flung into when he decided to sidle up to his keyboard on Friday night.
The Rockets are already a championship or bust team, so Morey’s job might be in question in any case. This is sure to put tension on things, but you know what they say: winning cures all. Who knows if that’s in the cards for a team with Russell Westbrook expected to play a big part in the playoffs in 2020.
Perhaps Morey will lay low to start the season in Texas?