The tweet from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of Hong Kong protesters has caused the NBA to enter damage control, with China being one of its largest markets and the Rockets being a favorite team in the country.
That led to an initial statement from the league that appeared to have a different meaning when translated to Mandarin, although a league spokesman said the English version was the NBA’s official stance. Early Tuesday, commissioner Adam Silver once again attempted to clarify the league’s position.
“We recognize that our two countries have different political systems and beliefs,” Silver said in another statement. “And like many global brands, we bring our business to places with different political systems around the world. But for those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business.”
The NBA issued another statement on China to clarify their stance after backlash for the first statement pic.twitter.com/LYbvhhDBNC
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) October 8, 2019
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Silver went on to say that diversity is one of the league’s strengths and that he believes sports can make a positive impact in the world. However, he stopped short of saying basketball is capable of solving the world’s issues.
“It is inevitable that people around the world — including from NBA and China — will have different viewpoints over different issues. It is not the role of the NBA to adjudicate those differences.”
Rockets owner Tilman Ferttita was quick to point out that Morey’s tweet did not represent the views of the organization. The league’s initial statement backed up that sentiment, but Silver made it clear Tuesday that the NBA will not encroach on the words of its employees.
“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.
“Basketball runs deep in the hearts and minds of our two people. At a time when divides between nations grow deeper and wider, we believe sports can be a unifying force that focuses on what we have in common as human beings rather than our differences.”