USA lawmakers have continued to heap criticism on the National Basketball Association (NBA) after it distanced itself from China-related tweets made by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey-with many labeling the organization as "hypocritical" following its handling of the scandal.
Morey, whose team is one of the most popular in the People's Republic, one of the NBA's most lucrative markets, showed support for demonstrators in the ongoing Hong Kong protests in a tweet on Friday.
James Harden issued an apology to China after general manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support of protestors in Hong Kong, which drew the ire of the country. The NBA's Chinese partners suspended ties with the franchise, Chinese sponsors pulled their money and Chinese TV outlets said they would no longer broadcast Rockets games. Yao Ming, arguably the greatest Chinese basketball player who now leads the Chinese Basketball Association, starred for the Rockets for many years and was the first Chinese player inducted into the NBA's Hall of Fame.
Morey merely said he did not intend to offend Chinese fans and that the tweet doesn't represent the Rockets and National Basketball Association.
"By now I hope you can begin to understand why the Daryl Morey tweet is so damaging to the relationship with our fans in China", Tsai wrote.
Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta quickly distanced the team from Morey's comments on Twitter.
Since early in the year, Hong Kong has seen a string of massive demonstrations sparked by concerns about a proposed extradition law that would allow the transfer of suspects accused of a crime to jurisdictions with which the city lacks an extradition deal, including mainland China.
And in a follow-up statement, Mr Morey said he had reconsidered his position.More news: MI beats Iowa, 10-3, in old-fashioned slugfest
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China's state broadcaster has also delved into the possibility of yanking of Rocket's games from the air in some of the country's broadcasting channels. "I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event", Morey tweeted, adding he had now considered other perspectives.
The statement came amid a massive financial backlash against the Rockets in China, and was a clear attempt to isolate the controversy to Morey without punishing him, lest the retaliation reach the rest of the league.
The Chinese Basketball Association, which represents China in the International Basketball Federation, announced on Sunday that it was halting cooperation with the Rockets in response to the tweet.
"I don't know Daryl personally", Tsai wrote of Morey.
While many expressed outrage, U.S. Sen.
The statement seems to say: we regret that Morey sent something that offended people in China. "We're here (in Asia) to play basketball and not to offend anybody". Texas senator Ted Cruz, who is a Rockets fan, condemned the NBA's stance on Sunday.
The NBA's response echoed the cautious approach other companies have been taking in an effort not to offend China, but it immediately generated protests from US politicians. But because the Chinese people themselves are not free to speak out - since anyone in China expressing support for the Hong Kong movement is also punished - those claims should not be taken seriously. "We have already stopped our cooperation with the Houston Rockets, and continue to urge them to give a clear answer on this matter".