Basketball legend Shaquille O’Neal has defended Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who sparked controversy earlier this month when he tweeted in support of protestors in Hong Kong.
O’Neal, a 19-year veteran of the NBA, is now an analyst for TNT. He spoke in support of Morey during a pregame show ahead of the NBA’s Opening Night on Tuesday.
“One of our best values here in America is free speech. We’re allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak up about injustices and that’s just how it goes,” O’Neal said. “Daryl Morey was right. Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say, ‘That’s not right’ and that’s what he did.”
While Morey’s tweet, which included an image that said “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” was quickly deleted, the Chinese government interpreted it as a challenge to its sovereignty over Hong Kong. The controversy has put the NBA’s business in China at risk, with Chinese stations halting broadcasts of pre-season NBA games and many Chinese companies cutting ties with the Houston Rockets.