Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed support for Hong Kong protesters Friday—then backtracked after a massive backlash from Beijing. The now-deleted tweet, which said "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong," caused Chinese broadcasters to say they would no longer broadcast Rockets games, the BBC reports. At least one Chinese sponsor cut its ties with the team and China's official basketball association said it would suspend cooperation with the Rockets. The NBA sought to distance itself from Morey's stance, saying on its official Chinese social media account that it was "extremely disappointed" by the "inappropriate" tweet, reports the AP. Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta said Morey wasn't speaking for the team.
Morey tweeted Sunday that he was "merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation of one complicated event" and he has now "had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives." He added that he has "always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided." The remarks from the NBA, however, caused a backlash from US lawmakers, with GOP Sen. Rick Scott accusing the league of "kowtowing to Beijing to protect their bottom line," Politico reports. Democrats also weighed in, with Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro tweeting that China is "using its economic power to silence critics—even those in the US." GOP Sen. John Cornyn retweeted him, saying "Julian, glad to agree with you on this one." (Read more NBA stories.)