NBA under fire in China over GM's Hong Kong tweet
The National Basketball Association came under fire on Monday for its response to a tweet by a Houston Rockets official in support of Hong Kong protests for democracy, the latest overseas business to run afoul of political issues in China.
Lauren Anthony reports.
The NBA is in damage control mode, after a tweet posted by the Houston Rockets General Manager caused a storm in mainland China - the league's largest international market.
Daryl Morey apologized on Monday (October 7) for his tweet that voiced support for the ongoing Hong Kong democracy protests, saying he did not intend to offend any fans and friends in China - and has now had time to hear and consider other perspectives.
He had tweeted an image with the words "Fight for Freedom.
Stand with Hong Kong" - in reference to pro-democracy demonstrations against China's government.
The NBA, meanwhile, said it was "regrettable" that the GMs views "deeply offended" many people there.
Players were also remorseful.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) HOUSTON ROCKETS GUARD, JAMES HARDEN, SAYING: "Um, yeah, we apologize, you know.
You know, we love China, we love playing there." The Houston Rockets is one of the most popular NBA teams in China.
Partly because it is the former home of Chinese basketball superstar, Yao Ming.
He played there from 2002 to 2011, attracting millions of Chinese Rocket fans along the way.
But the franchise's future in the critical Chinese market seems to be in limbo, for now at least.
Although Morey rushed to delete his tweet, China's Basketball Association quickly cut ties with the U.S. baskeball team - even though its headed by Yao Ming.
Morey's tweet also prompted the Rocket's Chinese sponsor and a sportswear maker to suspend their deals.
Shortly after, Chinese state broadcaster CCTV's sports channel said they would suspend any further broadcasts of Rockets matches as of Sunday.
Back home, U.S. lawmakers have joined the chorus of criticism.
They are calling the NBA's response "shameful" - accusing the league of a double standard when it comes to China.