OCTOBER 18: Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang has said the Chinese government didn’t demand Morey’s firing, per an Associated Press report.
OCTOBER 17: Appearing on Thursday at the TIME 100 Health Summit (link via Sean Gregory of TIME), NBA commissioner Adam Silver told Robin Roberts that the Chinese government wanted Rockets general manager Daryl Morey fired in the wake of his tweet expressing support for protestors in Hong Kong. However, the league refused to entertain that idea.
“We made clear that we were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
After Morey published and then deleted his tweet, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta issued a statement saying that the GM didn’t speak for the franchise and that the Rockets aren’t a “political organization.” However, that was about as far as the team or the league went in denouncing Morey. Silver later made a statement saying that the NBA supported Morey’s freedom of expression, a point he reiterated during his conversation with Roberts.
“These American values — we are an American business — travel with us wherever we go,” Silver said. “And one of those values is free expression. We wanted to make sure that everyone understood we were supporting free expression.”
Silver also said last week that he and the NBA understand that freedom of expression doesn’t mean freedom from consequences, and the league has been feeling the financial consequences of the China controversy.
At the TIME event on Thursday, the NBA commissioner said the league is not only “willing” to cope with lost revenues from China, but that it already is coping with those losses, which have been “substantial.”
“I don’t know where we go from here,” Silver said. “The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”