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  • The NBA is no stranger to controversy, but a team manager's tweet has created tension between the league and one of its biggest supporters: China.

  • The response from China, NBA players, and others has been complicated, so let's break it down.

  • The Houston Rockets General Manager, Daryl Morey, sparked a global controversy when he tweeted his support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

  • The message caused a media backlash from China.

  • He eventually removed the post and the Rockets owner swiftly responded by distancing the team from Morey.

  • The team's star, James Harden, has also apologized to China.

  • Yeah, we apologize, you know.

  • You know, we love China.

  • We love, you know, playing there.

  • The Rockets are one of the most popular teams in China.

  • They drafted legend Yao Ming as the top pick in 2002.

  • He spent nine seasons with the team.

  • The Rockets even have a Chinese-language website and have worn jerseys to celebrate the Chinese New Year.

  • Ming now leads the Chinese Basketball Association.

  • In response to Morey's tweet, the group said that they planned to cut ties with the Rockets, plus, Chinese state TV and Tencent Sports, the NBA's rights holder in China, said they would no longer air Rockets games.

  • Beyond the Rockets, the NBA has a huge presence in China.

  • The league launched NBA China in 2008 and signed a new agreement with Tencent Sports in 2019.

  • Tencent announced that 21 million people used its service to watch the deciding game of the 2019 NBA finals, topping viewers in the US, and as many as 500 million Chinese fans watched at least one NBA game last season.

  • So what does this all mean for the NBA's relationship with China?

  • The league released a statement saying that Morey's tweet "Deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable," but they also said they support individuals "sharing their views on the matters important to them."

  • NBA coaches and players have weighed in on political issues in the past, but China and Hong Kong represent a fine line.

  • Standing up for protestors in Hong Kong could jeopardize the league's financial interests and its relationship with Chinese fans.

  • This may be a lesson that the NBA's quest for a global footprint can have complicated outcomes.

The NBA is no stranger to controversy, but a team manager's tweet has created tension between the league and one of its biggest supporters: China.

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Untangling the web of the Rockets, the NBA and China

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    Fibby posted on 2019/10/24
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