September 28, 2021

NBA under fire for ‘shameful’ response to China controversy | TheHill

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The NBA is facing backlash over its response to a statement made by the Houston Rockets’ general manager that prompted a fierce reaction from China. 

Daryl Morey in a tweet on Friday voiced support for the thousands of protesters that have taken to the streets of Hong Kong in recent weeks, writing: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

The demonstrations in the special autonomous region, which until the mid-1990s was a British colony, have turned notably violent in recent days, as protesters seek to pressure the local government over its close ties to Beijing.

In response to Morey’s statement, the Chinese Basketball Association suspended ties with the Rockets, despite the fact that Morey deleted his initial tweet. He also later issued a statement on Twitter, saying he did not intend “to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China.”

The NBA issued its own statement later on Sunday, saying it recognized that Morey’s comments “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 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.”

The statement drew immediate backlash online, with journalists and U.S. lawmakers from both parties slamming it. 

Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was one of the first lawmakers to weigh in on the statement, calling it “shameful.”

“It’s clear that the @NBA is more interested in money than human rights. Tonight’s statement from Commissioner Silver is an absolute joke,” he wrote, referring to Adam Silver.

“The NBA is kowtowing to Beijing to protect their bottom line and disavowing those with the temerity to #standwithHongKong. Shameful!” 

It’s clear that the @NBA is more interested in money than human rights. Tonight’s statement from Commissioner Silver is an absolute joke.

The NBA is kowtowing to Beijing to protect their bottom line and disavowing those with the temerity to #standwithHongKong. Shameful! https://t.co/RBPJa04xzK

— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) October 7, 2019

Sen. Josh HawleyJoshua (Josh) David HawleyHillicon Valley: Iranian hacking operation targeted campaign, government accounts | House panel pushes Zuckerberg to testify on Libra | Trump officials step up attacks on Facebook encryption Bipartisan senators warn against efforts to weaken children’s online privacy law Second GOP senator to oppose Trump judicial pick MORE (R-Mo.) criticized the statement and referenced alleged human rights abuses in China, including the repression of Uighur Muslims.

Chinese govt has a million people locked in concentration camps & is trying to brutally repress Hong Kong demonstrators – and NBA wants to “bridge cultural divides”? Cultural divides?” he asked in a tweet.

Chinese govt has a million people locked in concentration camps & is trying to brutally repress Hong Kong demonstrators – and NBA wants to “bridge cultural divides”? Cultural divides? https://t.co/d6jXQOzb5F

— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) October 7, 2019

Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzNBA draws bipartisan backlash over China response GOP turns furor on media amid impeachment fight Cruz, Graham send well wishes to Sanders after heart procedure MORE (R-Texas) slammed the statement, accusing the NBA of putting money over human rights.

“As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protestors in Hong Kong,” Cruz tweeted.

“Now, in pursuit of big $$, the @nba is shamefully retreating. We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.” 

We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 7, 2019

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzFederal aid is reaching storm-damaged communities too late Impeachment threatens to drown out everything On The Money: Senate confirms Scalia as Labor chief | Bill with B in wall funding advanced over Democrats’ objections | Lawyers reach deal to delay enforcement of NY tax return subpoena MORE (D-Hawaii) called the statement “a mistake that they should fix quickly.”

This is a mistake that they should fix quickly. https://t.co/qNmKNTdksV

— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) October 7, 2019

Rep. Brendan Boyle (D-Penn.) called the statement a “disgrace.”

“Stop putting the almighty [dollar emoji] before human rights, for once,” he added.

The @NBA statement is a disgrace. Stop putting the almighty before human rights, for once.

— US Rep Brendan Boyle (@RepBrendanBoyle) October 7, 2019

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) tweeted that the “@NBA = no backbone, apparently.”

Sen. John CornynJohn CornynNBA draws bipartisan backlash over China response Cornyn makes waves with tweet about Justice investigating Biden GOP turns furor on media amid impeachment fight MORE (R-Texas) on Sunday night retweeted Democratic presidential candidate Julian CastroJulian CastroThe Hill’s Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising We are facing a conservation crisis – it’s time to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund Joaquin Castro volunteers to play his brother on ‘SNL’ MORE, who had earlier in the day criticized China’s threats in response to Morey’s initial tweet. “Julián, glad to agree with you on this one,” Cornyn wrote.

Julián, glad to agree with you on this one. https://t.co/0V7PHY1iIW

— Senator John Cornyn (@JohnCornyn) October 7, 2019

Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta tweeted Friday that Morey does not speak for the franchise and that the team is not a political organization.

Rep. Eric SwalwellEric Michael SwalwellNBA draws bipartisan backlash over China response Former Ukraine envoy Volker to resign as head of McCain Institute Intelligence watchdog huddles with members as impeachment push grows MORE (D-Calif.) on Sunday hit Fertitta for “siding with communism.”

“Listen….some things are more important than money. Like doing the right thing,” he wrote.

“@dmorey tweeted about human rights and supporting #HongKongProtests. How ironic that you’re siding with communism to advance your greed.” 

Listen….some things are more important than money. Like doing the right thing. @dmorey tweeted about human rights and supporting #HongKongProtests. How ironic that you’re siding with communism to advance your greed. https://t.co/RoyJ3o3bbY

— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) October 7, 2019

The Rockets have been one of the most popular teams in China since picking Hall of Fame center Yao Ming first in the 2002 NBA Draft.

This report was updated at 11:00 pm

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Chris Mills Rodrigo
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