The NBA is trying to play both sides of the controversial Hong Kong tweet and hoping their long history in China will help

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  • The NBA is attempting to balance competing interests in the wake Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeting in support of the protests in Hong Kong.
  • NBA commissioner Adam Silver called offense to fans in China by Morey’s tweet “regrettable,” but said the NBA supports “individuals educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them.”
  • Numerous companies in China have already cut ties with the NBA in the wake of Morey’s comments and Silver’s initial response.
  • Silver added that he believed “in the power of sports to make a difference,” and told reporters that he hoped to meet with officials in Shanghai to put both his and Morey’s remarks in context and “find a mutual respect for each other’s political systems and beliefs.”
  • The NBA has a reputation as a progressive league, but that may be difficult to hold on to as they try to find a middle ground with their financial interests in China.
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The NBA is attempting to thread a difficult needle right now.

On Friday, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted in support of the ongoing Hong Kong protests, a move that was not appreciated by the NBA’s business partners in China.

Morey apologized and deleted the tweet, but the initial damage was done. State broadcaster China Central Television and the livestreaming platform Tencent Sports both said they would no longer broadcast Rockets games.

Read more: China says it will stop broadcasting NBA games after Commissioner Adam Silver defended Daryl Morey’s freedom to support Hong Kong protests

In the wake of the initial controversy, NBA commissioner Adam Silver has attempted to balance the league’s values of free expression with its financial interests in spreading the game abroad.

In the NBA’s first statement on the matter, Silver tried to split the difference, saying that Morey’s comments causing offense to fans in China was “regrettable,” but clarifying that while they do not represent the feelings of the league or the Rockets, it “supports individuals educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them.

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