The Chinese Basketball Association ‘Suspended Cooperation’ With The Rockets Over Morey’s Hong Kong Tweet

Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has been something of a divisive figure in the NBA for years for his role as one of the leaders of the analytics revolution in the league. The arguments that have been sparked by the analytics movement he’s helped grow and spread over the years, however, are nothing in comparison to the international incident he sparked on Friday.

The Rockets are playing preseason games in Japan this year, not China where the team has a tremendous presence due to the time Yao Ming spent with the team. Houston has long had special uniforms for Chinese New Year and they are one of, if not the, biggest teams in the country along with the Warriors. On Friday night, Morey sent out a now-deleted tweet with an image that read “Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong,” lending his support to anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.


The tweet caused an uproar in China and the backlash to Morey’s tweet was swift. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta tried to smooth over the issue on Twitter stating Morey doesn’t speak for the Rockets, but in China the damage was apparently done.

On Sunday, Tencent, the NBA’s broadcast partner in China, the Chinese Basketball Association, Li-Ning, and others announced they would all suspend cooperation with the Houston Rockets as a result of Morey’s post, as relayed by former Rockets reporter for Tencent, Yu Fu.

Yao Ming, now the president of the CBA, released a statement on the league’s official Twitter account, per the South China Morning Post.

“The Chinese Basketball Association strongly disagrees with the improper remarks by [Rockets general manager] Daryl Morey, and has decided to suspend exchanges and cooperation with the team,” the CBA, chaired by Yao, said in a statement on its official account on Weibo, China’s Twitter.

Morey’s support of protesters, who originally were against an extradition bill that would bring prisoners to mainland China for trials, but China, per the SCMP, believes they are part of a Western effort to start a “color revolution” that could spread to the mainland. Many in China have called for Morey to issue an apology for his remarks, as well as an official league statement on the matter.

Dime reached out to the NBA for an official comment on Sunday morning and had not received a response as of publishing.