Tencent has finally broadcasted a Houston Rockets’ game after more than a year since Daryl Morrey tweeted about Hong Kong.
Chinese basketball fans were finally allowed to watch a Rockets’ game after what seemed like an eternity. Tencent had broadcasted the Rockets’ recent matchup against the Lakers. This marks the first time that a Rockets game has been broadcasted in china since October 2019.
The reason for this 15-month hiatus was a tweet that was put out by Daryl Morrey, who was the Rockets’ general manager at the time. He had tweeted an image that contained the ‘Stand with Hong Kong’ symbol.
Chinese basketball fans took notice of this and targeted his account and called for his firing. Following the removal of the tweet, Tencent had announced that it would not broadcast any Houston Rockets’ games.
Sunday’s Rockets-Lakers game was broadcast in China via Tencent … Houston’s first game shown in China since former GM Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong in October 2019
The Sixers, Morey’s new team, have not been aired in China this season
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) January 11, 2021
Daryl Morey leaving the Rockets’ organization after the 2019-20 season presented the perfect opportunity for Tencent. It should also come as no surprise that Tencent has not broadcasted any 76ers games since Daryl Morey joined them.
How the Houston Rockets went from the most popular team in China to getting banned in 2019
The Houston Rockets gained popularity in the Chinese market after they drafted Yao Ming in 2002. Yao was the first dominant big man to come out of Asia. His impressive performances in the NBA were a matter of pride for Chinese nationals around the world.
The relationship that Chinese fans had with the Rockets broke down quickly after Morrey had expressed support with Hong Kong protestors on Twitter. First, protests in Hong Kong began after their government proposed a bill that would have allowed for the extradition of Hong Kong residents to China to face trial.
As a result, this would allow China to exercise control over the citizens of Hong Kong. China has attempted to influence several such legislations over the past decade.
How ‘Free Hong Kong’ affected the NBA in China
Protesters in Hong Kong took to the streets for weeks and were met with police brutality. Daryl Morrey had published a tweet that expressed solidarity with the protestors. This was seen as an attempt to tarnish China’s image globally. Despite, taking the tweet down the damage had already been done. The league had attempted to smooth things over with a statement, however, that had little effect on the outcome.
.@NBA announced on Chinese Sina Weibo on Monday that Houston Rockets’ general manager @dmorey‘s inappropriate comments on #HK issues “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.” pic.twitter.com/w9d49xvu9g
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) October 7, 2019
Finally, after the dust settled Adam Silver declared that he will not punish Daryl Morey for exercising his right to free speech. The Chinese Government did not appreciate this and has since expressed their displeasure by not broadcasting Rockets games. Hopefully, they will walk back on their decision to not broadcast 76ers games in the near future.