Daryl Morey has no regrets about a tweet he issued in support Hong Kong protestors at the start of the 2019-2020 NBA season. He did worry, though, that it might mean the end of his career. The tweet stirred emotions in both China and throughout the NBA, as relayed by Jackie MacMullan of ESPN.
Morey was the general manager of the Houston Rockets when he expressed strong support for those in Hong Kong protesting communism and standing for democracy. It led the Chinese-run CCTV to drop NBA games for the season. Later, CCTV decided it would again broadcast games, provided the Rockets weren't one of the two teams playing.
It is not known where CCTV stands on the issue this season. Morey stepped down from the Rockets of his own accord once the season ended. He spent 13 years as Rockets GM. He has since been hired as president of basketball operations of the Philadelphia 76ers, and it will be interesting to see if China will allow Sixers games to be carried on its airwaves.
Morey took some serious grief from Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr at the time of his tweet. James concluded that "many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, spiritually."
Ah, yes. Financially. No sports league in history has profited as greatly as the NBA has from its relationship with China. You don't need hard numbers to know that, either.
Kerr eventually backtracked and said he wishes he hadn't been so hard on Morey. James hasn't commented on the issue since. The national media hasn't bothered to bring it up either, which is surprising since the NBA is a business and China is a major reason it has been able to chug along so well.
As MacMullan noted, Morey didn't back down from his tweet when asked about it a few months later. "I'm very comfortable with what I did," he said. But that's not to say he felt his position as a team executive was safe.
"In the last 12 months, I had moments where I thought I might never work in the NBA again, for reasons I was willing to go down for," Morey told MacMullan. "But I love working. I love what I do, and I didn't want that to happen."
Thankfully for Morey, it didn't happen. He is back and running one of the league's most competitive teams, a team that is expected to contend with young stars like center Joel Embiid and guard/forward Ben Simmons.
In the meantime, Morey's continued employment will likely lead to continued questions about the NBA's relationship with China. And there are a lot of questions that need to be asked, given the current social injustices and reports of modern-day slavery taking place in the communist nation.
The NBA has always taken great pride in its unwavering support of social justice messaging, but it has remained silent on China for the most part. It is therefore fair to ask if the league support human rights only as long as those human rights don't interfere with its bottom dollar.
Either way, Morey is standing steadfast in his cries for freedom and democracy all across the world, and it's good to see he can continue his career while doing so. For the NBA, that's a good first step -- but only a first step.