NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Thursday that the league rejected demands from Chinese government officials to fire Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey over his October 4 tweet in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.
"We were being asked to fire him by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business", Silver said. But I think it bothered me that somehow even though we - I felt were holding the line in a way that many companies haven't been able to in China, meaning there was no discipline of our employee, there was never a suggestion that we weren't supporting him. Morey's tweet, sent on October 6, set off a firestorm of reaction in the state-controlled Chinese media and altered promotional plans for a two-game series featuring the Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
"The losses have already been substantial", Silver said at the Time 100 Summit, in his first public comments about the NBA's relationship with China since he returned to the USA from China earlier this week.
The NBA has spent decades cultivating its business in China.
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Chinese government officials ordered the National Basketball Association to cancel media availability prior to two planned exhibition games in the country earlier this month, including Silver's planned press conference, FOX Business reported at the time. Only because I had thought we'd taken a principled position. Silver said the fallout from Morey's tweet and the NBA's subsequent response has led to "substantial losses".
"We express strong indignation on and firm opposition to the US House of Representative's passage of the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act", the ministry's spokesman, Geng Shuang, said in a statement. James' comments seemed to take issue with what Morey originally wrote on Twitter. "We want to preserve our right to free speech in terms of being fans". "These American values - we are an American business - travel with us wherever we go". "Maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat", Silver said.
Thetweet was quickly targeted by an onslaught of China troll attacks and Morey soon deleted it. And I believe nobody stopped and considered what would happen.
During a March interview, Silver said "we are living in a time of anxiety" and that "a lot of players are unhappy", thanks largely to social media and the proliferation of personalized technology.