An Uncomfortable Wrinkle in NBA's China Controversy

Former Rockets star Yao Ming is now a China basketball exec; flap involves old team
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 8, 2019 10:05 AM CDT

(Newser) – A tweet has caused a major rift between the NBA and China, and the league is now fending off criticism that its initial response to the controversy was too accommodating to Beijing. Meanwhile, a familiar name has become embroiled in the mess. Here's the latest:

  • What happened: This began when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted a since-deleted tweet supporting Hong Kong protesters. It angered China, prompting Morey, team owner Tilman Fertitta, and the league itself to try to mitigate the damage. (Here is Morey's effort.) An initial NBA statement said the tweet "deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable."
  • Yao Ming: Basketball is a huge and growing business in China, and the biggest name there is retired NBA great Yao Ming, who played for years with, of all teams, the Rockets. But Yao is now the head of the Chinese Basketball Association, which has suspended ties with the Rockets because of Morey's tweet, reports the AP. Yao hasn't shared his personal feelings about the controversy, notes CBS News. "I'm hoping that together Yao Ming and I can find an accommodation," says NBA chief Adam Silver. "But he is extremely hot at the moment, and I understand it."

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