The Houston Rockets are in Tokyo to play exhibition games against the Toronto Raptors in front of their adoring Japanese fans. However, the team is facing controversy after general manager Daryl Morey made a political statement.
Earlier this week, he tweeted an image supporting the Hong Kong protesters. However, team owner Tilman Fertitta released a statement through his social media account distancing the franchise from his statement.
Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi
— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
Morey immediately deleted his tweet after the fact. There was a racket online as supporters and detractors of the Hong Kong independence movement shared their sentiments.
Fertitta immediately clarified that there's no beef between him and his general manager, though. Yahoo! Sports' Eric He writes:
“I have the best general manager in the league,” Fertitta said. “Everything is fine with Daryl and me. We got a huge backlash, and I wanted to make clear that [the organization] has no [political] position. We're here to play basketball and not to offend anybody.”
It's understandable why the owner had to make the statement. The Rockets are a basketball organization and is not involved in the politics of any country. Distancing the organization from Morey's individual comments is important for them to keep their neutrality.
Moreover, it's important for them to keep their Chinese market. The Rockets have a large market in China due to Yao Ming's connection to the team. Clarifying that they are not sharing Morey's sentiments appease their giant Chinese fanbase.
Since Morey deleted the tweet, the Rockets can now focus on playing basketball. However, the damage has been done. The issue will definitely follow Houston for a good while.