Nets Owner Joe Tsai Writes Open Letter to NBA Fans After Daryl Morey China Tweet

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 7, 2019

FILE - In this May 9, 2019, file photo, Joe Tsai speaks to reporters during a news conference before a WNBA exhibition basketball game between the New York Liberty and China in New York. The Brooklyn Nets have a new owner and a new CEO. Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai completed his purchase of the team and Barclays Center on Wednesday,Sept. 18, 2019, then announced that he had hired former Turner Broadcasting President David Levy to oversee both. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Brooklyn Nets governor Joe Tsai wrote an open letter to NBA fans Monday responding to the comments made about China and Hong Kong by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.

In a since-deleted tweet, Morey had expressed support for the Hong Kong protestors, writing, "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." But after severe backlash from China and the Chinese Basketball Association, Morey apologized for his remarks:

Daryl Morey @dmorey

2/ I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA.

"The Chinese basketball association has expressed strong opposition to the remarks, and will suspend communication and cooperation with the Houston Rockets club," the CBA said in a statement following Morey's tweet, per Saheli Roy Choudhury of CNBC.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic and Stadium, the league also canceled G League games scheduled for later in October:

Shams Charania @ShamsCharania

Sources: In response to social media events over weekend, China (Chinese Basketball Association) has canceled NBA G League’s planned exhibition games between Rockets affiliate (Rio Grande Valley) and Dallas Mavericks affiliate (Texas) scheduled later this month in China.

While both the NBA and Rockets governor Tilman Fertitta apologized for the remarks, the fallout also extends to the Rockets' business ties in China. CCTV 5, China's top state broadcaster, announced it would stop broadcasting Houston games, while Tencent Sports said it wouldn't stream those games, per Laura He of CNN.

Additionally, Chinese companies Li-Ning Company and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank each announced over the weekend they would no longer be partnering with the Rockets.

While Morey's comments raised the ire of China, the NBA's decision to apologize for Morey's remarks has been met with backlash in the United States:

Keith Olbermann @KeithOlbermann

The @NBA’s obsequiousness on this, from @joetsai1999 to the smarmy league Statement on @dmorey to this Harden remark, is embarrassing beyond words. To stand up for the democratic freedoms we have here is to risk alienating those who would suppress them. The NBA has failed: https://t.co/WGAMKdsY4C

Jason Gay @jasongay

New for the @WSJ: The NBA is supposed to be the enlightened league. What’s happening this week...is not that. https://t.co/UNFbFCTGci

Ted Cruz @tedcruz

As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protestors in Hong Kong. Now, in pursuit of big $$, the @nba is shamefully retreating. https://t.co/7waMde5KrM

Beto O'Rourke @BetoORourke

The only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization of profits over human rights. What an embarrassment. https://t.co/bbiwCBTwc1

According to the BBC, the protests in Hong Kong have stemmed in response to "proposals to allow extradition to mainland China. Critics feared this could undermine the city's judicial independence and endanger dissidents. A former British colony, Hong Kong has some autonomy and more rights than the mainland under a 'one country, two systems' deal."

While the bill that would have allowed extradition has since been withdrawn, tensions have continued to escalate and encounters between police and protestors have grown more violent.