By Maurice Butler
For a while now, The National Basketball Association has always had their preseason against foreign teams and in foreign countries. Much of the time, the teams the NBA teams play against in the preseason are Chinese teams. In China, the NBA is very popular, making China one of the NBA’s biggest supporters in the world. This is partly the reason why Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey sparked controversy when he tweeted an image that said, “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”. The tweet has since been deleted.
The relationship between China and Hong Kong right now is very tense. Hong Kong is a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. Hong Kong has operated as a semi-autonomous state with certain political and economic freedoms under the “one country, two systems policy. The policy states that within the People’s Republic of China it will maintain the socialist system, however, Hong Kong and Taiwan stay under the capitalist system. Controversy began when a new rule was introduced that could allow criminal suspects to be transported from Hong Kong to mainland China.
Prior to the tweet, China and the Rockets had a great relationship. The Houston Rocket were the most popular team in China, however after this tweet, the CBA (Chinese Basketball Association) has halted cooperation with Rockets, as did some Chinese sportswear companies such as Li-Ning. Another change was that the company Tencent, which owns the NBA digital rights in China, announced a blacklist of Daryl Morey and said it would “suspend all reports/streaming” of the Rockets.
In the coming months it will be interesting to see how the relationship between the Houston Rockets, as well as the NBA’s relationship with China, will be resolved.