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Adam Silver: Chinese Government Asked NBA to Fire and Discipline Daryl Morey


As the fallout from the controversy between the NBA and China continues, commissioner Adam Silver addressed how the Chinese government responded to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey's tweet.

"We were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with in government and business. We said there's no chance that's happening. There's no chance we'll even discipline him," Silver said at the TIME 100 Health Summit on Thursday.

He added: "We wanted to make an absolutely clear statement that the values of the NBA, these American values—we are an American business—travel with us wherever we go. And one of those values is free expression. We wanted to make sure that everyone understood we were supporting free expression."

On Oct. 4, Morey tweeted his support for Hong Kong protestors. His tweet included a photo of protestors with the caption, "Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong." The Nets and Lakers traveled to China to play in two exhibition games one week later. 

However, a pair of NBA Cares events in Shanghai were canceled as the fallout from Morey's tweet continued. China's state-run TV network, CCTV, suspended its NBA programming due to the controversy. The Chinese basketball federation also canceled upcoming G League exhibition games between teams affiliated with the Rockets and Mavericks.

On Oct. 6, the NBA issued a statement to address Morey's tweet.

"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. 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," the league said.

However, many people interpreted the statement as the NBA saying it found the content in Morey's tweet "regrettable." Silver clarified that statement on Thursday.

"The 'regrettable' was modifying the fact that we had upset our Chinese fans," he said. "Maybe I was trying too hard to be a diplomat. I didn't see it as my role as commissioner of the NBA to weigh in on the substance of the protest but to say here's this platform."

When asked if the NBA was willing to accept the possible financial losses that come with supporting Morey, Silver said it's already started.

"Not only willing but we are. The losses have already been substantial. Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we'll see what happens next. ...The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic."