‘I did not intend to cause any offence’: Houston Rockets GM on pro-Hong Kong tweet

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey discusses the direction of the team with the media during a basketball news conference, Tuesday, April 19, 2011, in Houston, after the decision to part ways with NBA basketball head coach Rick Adelman. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

The general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets issued a two-part statement on Twitter regarding his now-deleted tweet supporting pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.

Daryl Morey tweeted late Sunday evening, saying he did not mean to cause any offence to Rockets’ fans in China.

READ MORE: China suspends ties with Houston Rockets after general manager’s pro-Hong Kong tweet

“I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” he tweeted.

“I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”

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Morey said he has “always appreciated” the support of basketball fans in China.

“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.”

His apologetic tweets came after China’s official basketball association said it would suspend cooperation with the Rockets.

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The Chinese Basketball Association had earlier said on Sunday via Weibo that Morey had made “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong” to which it expressed its “strong opposition.”

The deleted tweet in question read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” Hong Kong has been roiled with pro-democracy protests for several months now.

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Two companies — sportswear brand Li-Ning and sponsor Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPD Bank) Credit Card Center — had said Sunday that they were suspending their cooperation with the Houston team.

Meanwhile the NBA issued in its own statement Sunday night, saying it was “regrettable” that Morey’s stance had “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China,” according to The New York Times.

READ MORE: Hong Kong metro partially open after weekend marked by arrests

“While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them,’’ NBA spokesman Mike Bass said in the statement quoted by the Times.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz expressed his disappointment with the NBA in his own tweets Sunday night, saying he was a “lifelong” Rockets fan who had been “proud” to see Morey “call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protestors in Hong Kong.”

“Now, in pursuit of big $$, the (NBA) is shamefully retreating,” Cruz tweeted. “We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.”

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According to The Associated Press, the NBA has a China office and has prioritized developing relations with the country for the past three decades. The Chinese Basketball Association’s president is Yao Ming, who used to play for the Rockets and is a large part of why the team has a strong fan base in China.

—With files from The Associated Press and Reuters

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