Tweet creates rift between the National Basketball Association and China

The Houston Rockets went to Asia for exhibition games but were plunged into a political firestorm following their general manager's tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong

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If China does not broadcast games, this is a major financial problem for the National Basketball Association.

But the Chinese social media giant behind the ubiquitous app WeChat may now become a corporate casualty of the deepening row sparked by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who expressed support for Hong Kong protests in a tweet over the weekend.

"We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression".

While the Houston Rockets may have been a fan-favorite in China due to the eight seasons Shanghai-born former NBA All-Star Yao Ming played with the team, Ross said Morey's tweet has ruined the Rockets' standing, and the team name "is now dirt".

They have thrown fits over advertising that used quotes from the Dalai Lama, who has been forced to live in exile for decades, so it should come as no surprise that they view the GM of an National Basketball Association team tweeting about Hong Kong to be a problem.

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He notes that China's equally passionate football fans can choose among the English, Spanish, Italian or other leagues.

"The hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to fix", Tsai said in an open letter to fans in which he tried to shed light on the Chinese perspective when it comes to Hong Kong.

The 20-team Chinese domestic league is widely viewed as several rungs below the NBA's competitive drama and quality of play and has not come close to producing a talent on par with Yao. -China trade war that escalated after Washington imposed visa restrictions on Chinese officials on Tuesday.

The NBA's efforts to please the Chinese government appear not to be limited to the issuance of obsequious press statements and the disavowal of criticism of the oppressive Communist regime. That angered both sides: The league was criticized by some fans and U.S. politicians for appearing to compromise its principles, and condemned by others in China for offending national sensibilities.

Either way, bottom line here isn't the bottom line. Tencent Sports, the NBA's exclusive streaming partner in China, suspended planned broadcasts of preseason games despite a deal with the league worth a reported $1.5 billion through the 2024-25 season. As we presumed they might, the Miami Heat look to be one of the bigger teams in the league and they will use it to their advantage when they can.

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"But if those are the consequences of us adhering to our values", he said, "I still feel it's very, very important to adhere to those values". The Chinese market makes up at least 10% of the league's current revenue, and could reach 20% by 2030.

Silver also told reporters, "But I'm a realist as well, and I recognize that this issue may not die down so quickly". Tuesday night was a good first showing regardless, let's hope they continue to gel and improve as a team and as separate five-man units.

One fan took his passion to another level. He wondered if a parting of the ways between Morey and the Rockets would appease China. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his own. In China, critics took Silver's defense of Morey on Tuesday as a sign of insensitivity to fan outrage.

Basketball is the most popular sport in China, with about 500 million people consuming NBA content.

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