Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey may say that he’s leaving his post to pursue other opportunities, but China’s official state broadcaster says otherwise.
A day after Morey announced that he was stepping down as Rockets GM to pursue other “professional opportunities,” CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, says that Morey’s departure is a reminder that those who “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people will have to pay a price.”
CCTV recently ended its one-year suspension of NBA broadcasts. A suspension the network enacted after Morey posted a tweet in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong. Morey’s simple post: “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” unleashed a ferocious backlash from the Chinese government who canceled numerous NBA games and business arrangements.
However, despite Morey’s insistence that his decision to leave had nothing to do with the controversy surrounding his tweet, CCTV suggested that it had everything to do with the tweet.
“We reiterate that any words and deeds that attempt to hurt the feelings of the Chinese people will have to pay a price,” CCTV said in a statement.
According to Yahoo, the announcement of Morey’s resignation sparked huge reaction on social media.
On the Twitter-like Weibo the hashtag ‘Morey resigns’ had 110 million views as of Friday lunchtime and was a top-25 trending topic.
NBA executives initially defended Morey’s right to freedom of expression, prompting numerous Chinese business partners and celebrities to cut ties with the league.
In May, the NBA named Michael Ma — the son of CCTV Sports executive Ma Guoli — as CEO of NBA China, setting off speculation that his appointment could mend ties.
Morey will remain with the Rockets in an advisory role until the team hires a new head coach.