Warriors coach Steve Kerr expresses regret over initial comments on China controversy
Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr wishes he backed up Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey more during the China controversy at the beginning of the 2019-20 season, which dominated headlines.
Morey voiced support on Twitter for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. As a result, the NBA’s relationship with China took a big hit:
With the NBA addressing severed ties w/ a Chinese bkb camp, I wanted to share this from Steve Kerr
I’m working on a piece abt coaches & their role in speaking up & Kerr, usually outspoken, admitted he didn’t like his comments re: China last yr
I think this is honest reflection pic.twitter.com/6sPNVWWnVt
— Candace Buckner (@CandaceDBuckner) July 24, 2020
Kerr typically doesn’t hesitate to speak out on issues, and the Warriors coach clearly regrets not saying more in defense of Morey.
The NBA suffered a substantial economic loss from Morey’s tweet. As of February 2018, NBA China was valued at more than $4 billion, or $133 million in value for each of the 30 teams, according to Mike Ozanian of Forbes. That number is expected to drop after Morey’s tweet, and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has hinted at hundreds of millions in losses due to this controversy.
Even though the government of China tamped down public anger at the NBA in reaction to Morey’s tweet out of concerns beginning to surface that the rhetoric was damaging China’s interests and image around the world, the NBA and China still have a ways to go to strengthen their relationship.
Back in 2015, the NBA signed a five-year, $700 million deal with Tencent, which is a Chinese multinational conglomerate holding company. Tencent carries NBA games in China, and the league signed an extension with the company in July 2019 worth $1.5 billion over five years.
The Warriors and Houston Rockets have a big following in China. Both teams have Chinese New Year jerseys.
U.S. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri wrote a letter asking NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to cancel exhibition games in China. However, the NBA still played a few preseason games there. A number of Republicans in Congress have spoken out about the league’s relationship with China, including Ted Cruz during a spat with Mavs owner Mark Cuban.