Houston Rockets GM apologizes for Hong Kong tweet that sparked international conflict

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 19: Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets speaks during a press conference announcing the signing of Jeremy Lin at Toyota Center on July 19, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

HOUSTON — A now deleted tweet from Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has caused quite the controversy. Morey tweeted in support of Hong Kong protesters Friday and has since apologized, but the damage has already been done.

“Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” the tweet read.

Since then, the Chinese Basketball Association, which is headed by Rockets legend Yao Ming, said it would suspend cooperation with the team, calling Morey’s tweet “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong.”

The NBA responded with the following statement, in part:

“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable…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.”

Morey tried to clear things up in a series of tweets Sunday.

The situation comes at  a kind of an awkward time as China has teams playing preseason games in the United States. The Rockets are about to play two games in Japan, and the Lakers and the nets are set to face off in Shenzhen, China on Saturday.

James Harden has spoken out about the controversy, too.

“For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year, they show us the most support and love so we appreciate them as a fan base and we love everything they’re about. And we appreciate the support they give us individually and as an organization,” Harden said during an apology made in Tokyo.

The tweet clearly has had a lot of backlash. ESPN reports Chinese athletic apparel maker Li-Ning also weighed in on the comments, saying they were also upset about the tweet.

It’s not clear yet if Morey’s apology or the NBA’s statement is going to help fix some of these damaged relationships.

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