ESPN.com reported the news, noting Morey supported pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and said "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong" in the since-deleted tweet.
The Chinese Basketball Association called the tweet "improper remarks regarding Hong Kong" and expressed its "strong opposition" to Morey’s words.
The general manager’s tweet prompted Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to stress Morey does not speak for the team, which Fertitta said is not a political organization:
"I have the best general manager in the league," Fertitta told ESPN’s Tim MacMahon. "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."
The Rockets are particularly popular in China because of Yao Ming’s time with the team. The Basketball Hall of Famer played for Houston from the 2002-03 season through the 2010-11 campaign and was an eight-time All-Star and five-time All-NBA selection.
CNN provided a summary of the protests in Hong Kong:
"It all started in June when millions came out to oppose a controversial bill that would have allowed extradition from Hong Kong to China. Carrie Lam, the city's leader, has shelved the bill, but the protests have morphed into something bigger. Some are now calling for Lam to step down, greater democracy and an inquiry into alleged policy brutality.
"As the demonstrations have dragged on, protesters have embraced more extreme, sometimes violent, tactics. And police have done the same."
Morey’s tweet came as the Rockets traveled to Asia to face the Toronto Raptors at Saitama Super Arena in Japan on Tuesday and Thursday.