Rockets All-Star guard James Harden issued an apology on Monday following general manager Daryl Morey's tweet of support for Hong Kong protestors.
Harden, alongside Russell Westbrook, spoke to reporters in Tokyo three days after Morey posted a now-deleted tweet that read, "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."
"We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there," Harden said, per ESPN. "For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love.
"We appreciate them as a fan base," Harden added. "We love everything there about them, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as [an] organization."
Harden's comments come after China's official basketball association suspended cooperation with the Rockets on Sunday. The association said that Morey had made “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong” to which it expressed its “strong opposition.” Chinese state television and Tencent, a major media partner with ESPN and the NBA in China, then said they would not be showing Rockets games this season.
The association announced on Monday that it would also be canceling NBA G League's planned exhibition games between Rockets affiliate Rio Grande Valley and Dallas Mavericks affiliate Texas later this month, per The Athletic's Shams Charania.
Team owner Tilman Fertitta distanced the franchise from Morey's tweet on Friday, asserting that the Rockets were an apolitical organization.
"We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable," the NBA said in a statement. "While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals' educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them."
NBA commissioner Adam Silver added his thoughts on Monday, stressing that he supported Morey's free speech while also acknowledging the impact his comments had on the league.
""There is no doubt, the economic impact is already clear," Silver said, per ESPN. "There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have.
"I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear ... that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression," he added.
Morey attempted to further clarify the matter on Sunday.
"I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China," he said in a tweeted statement. "I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives."
The Rockets are currently in Japan as they prepare for a preseason matchup with the Raptors on Tuesday. They hosted the Shanghai Sharks in a preseason contest on Sept. 30.