China’s official basketball association says it will suspend cooperation with the Houston Rockets following a tweet by the team’s general manager in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
The Chinese Basketball Association said on Sunday on its official Twitter-like Weibo account that Daryl Morey had made “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong” to which it expressed its “strong opposition.”
That underscores Beijing’s extreme sensitivity about foreign attitudes toward the ongoing protests in the semi-autonomous territory that have lately grown in violence. China accuses foreign parties in the US and elsewhere of encouraging the demonstrations.
Morey’s now-deleted tweet read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta attempted to distance the team from Morey’s tweet with a Twitter post of his own: Listen.@darylmorey 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.
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://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
China’s relationship with the Rockets has been especially close because Chinese hall of famer Yao Ming played his entire NBA career with the team.