Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, whose Twitter post last year in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters resulted in China yanking NBA games off state TV and criticism from the NBA team’s owner and others including LeBron James, will resign from his post after 13 years, ESPN reported.
Morey approached Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta following the team’s elimination from the second round of the NBA playoffs after the league resumed play amid the coronavirus-related suspension of play, ESPN said quoting unidentified sources.
Morey, 48, supposedly grew increasingly interested in exploring other professional opportunities and also was eager to spend time with his two college-age children who are both taking a year off from academics during the numerous restrictions associated with the coronavirus outbreak, ESPN said.
The Rockets under Morey have the second-best record in the league during his tenure, reaching the playoffs 10 of the 13 years, including the last eight consecutively.
But he may be more known among the general public for his Twitter post last October when he wrote: “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” following the protests that erupted after the Chinese government banned face masks at the demonstrations.
The post resulted in Rockets merchandise being removed from Chinese websites and the Chinese Basketball Association suspending its relationship with the NBA club. Fertitta posted to Twitter saying Morey ”does not speak for the Rockets” and that the team ”was NOT a political organization.”
NBA All-Star LeBron James called Morey ”misinformed.”
The NBA issued a statement calling Morey’s post ”regrettable.” Morey subsequently deleted the post and offered an apology saying he didn’t intend ”to cause any offense.”
American politicians criticized Fertitta, the NBA and others, accusing them of bowing to Chinese demands to stifle dissent over its actions.