Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta strongly denounced a tweet from general manager Daryl Morey on Friday night after the GM posted an image supporting protesters in Hong Kong.
Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
Morey later deleted his tweet, an image that read, “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”
Fertitta told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon that he felt compelled to publicly clarify that the Rockets do not take political positions due to the reaction to Morey’s tweet, but Fertitta stressed that he has no issues with Morey.
“I have the best general manager in the league,” Fertitta said. “Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that [the organization] has no [political] position. We’re here to play basketball and not to offend anybody.”
Hong Kong has seen four months of protests and increasing violence between demonstrators and police, originally sparked by a proposal that would have allowed extradition from the semiautonomous territory to mainland China. The issue snowballed into a sustained outburst of anti-government and anti-China fury from protesters, and it plunged Hong Kong, which has special freedoms unique among Chinese cities, into its deepest crisis since the territory reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Morey’s tweet came as the Rockets headed to Saitama, Japan, where they will face the Toronto Raptors in a preseason game next week.
The Rockets are among the most popular NBA teams in China, dating to the early 2000s, when Basketball Hall of Famer Yao Ming, a native of Shanghai, starred for Houston.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.