China suspends relationship with Houston Rockets after GM tweets support for Hong Kong protests

Blake Schuster | Yahoo Sports

UPDATE: The Chinese backlash against Daryl Morey and the Houston Rockets has caused team ownership to debate whether or not to oust him as general manager, according to John Gonzalez of The Ringer. Conflicting reports have emerged, however, as Sam Amick of The Athletic and Marc Stein of The New York Times have both tweeted Morey’s job is not in jeopardy.

They did note deny that this situation is getting ugly, however.

Original story below.

The strong bond between the Houston Rockets and China’s basketball operation is deteriorating at a breakneck pace after general manager Daryl Morey expressed solidarity with protesters in Hong Kong.

Chinese Basketball Association officials announced they are suspending cooperation with the Rockets, which had become one of the most popular teams in the nation following superstar Yao Ming’s Hall of Fame career in Houston as the game expanded its global footprint.

Morey’s since-deleted tweet read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” in reference to increasingly violent protests over the state’s autonomy.

The response by both the franchise and China has been swift with Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta immediately denouncing Morey’s comments with his own tweet.

The CBA, which unanimously elected Yao chairman in 2017, added that it strongly opposed Morey’s “inappropriate” remarks and has additionally blocked Rockets games this season with a free offer for subscribers to switch “home teams” on its NBA League Pass-like streaming service.

The Rockets have reportedly also lost all Chinese sponsors as the blackout of the franchise begins to take hold.

The implications for the NBA are clearly massive here as the league has worked for years to build a loyal fanbase in China, becoming its most popular sport in the process.

Fertitta has since said that Morey’s job with the Rockets is safe, yet has liked multiple comments on Instagram calling for him to fire the GM.

Currently, the Houston Rockets are in Tokyo as part of the NBA Japan Games.