NBA superstar James Harden apologized to China on Monday for a tweet his general manager sent out on Friday. Unfortunately, his apology wasn’t good enough.
The National Basketball League scrambled to get back on China’s good side after the Chinese government blocked live broadcasts of NBA games on Monday. China was offended after Houston Rocket’s general manager Daryl Morey tweeted that he chose democracy over Communism.
In the now-deleted tweet, Morey also supported Hong Kong, where pro-democracy demonstrators continue to protest in the streets against the pro-Chinese sector and the Hong Kong Police Force.
The Rockets are in Tokyo, Japan to play 2 pre-season exhibition games against NBA champions Toronto Raptors.
China banned live broadcasts of NBA pre-season games hours after Harden apologized for Morey’s tweet.
Harden, pictured left with teammate Russell Westbrook, said, “We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there. For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love,” Harden said.
He added: “We appreciate them as a fan base. We love everything there about them, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as [an] organization. We love you.”
The Chinese government was further disappointed when NBA commissioner Adam Silver insisted he wouldn’t gag owners or players from speaking their minds.
“The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way,” Silver said in a statement on Tuesday.
Morey’s tweet resulted in the NBA losing advertisers and lucrative sponsorships, including Tiffany’s jewelry.
The normally very opinionated NBA superstar LeBron James has so far remained silent on the controversy.