BA commissioner Adam Silver has taken issue with the perception from some that his league gave in to China during this month’s drama, revealing that amid the turmoil refused a request that apparently came down from Beijing.
At a Time magazine event in New York City on Thursday, Silver spoke about the controversy sparked by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s tweet of support for the Hong Kong protests, defending how the NBA handled the fallout from China.
“We made clear that we were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with, government and business,” Silver said. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
Silver failed to go on to explain how the request to fire Morey was made and by whom. While such demands had been made by Chinese netizens and media, it was not previously clear that Chinese officials had made this desire explicitly clear to the NBA.
The NBA disappointed many in the United States with its initial reaction to China’s backlash over Morey’s tweet, issuing a statement that was sort of an apology and became even more conciliatory when rendered into Chinese — though China’s internet still wasn’t happy and demanded a full apology.
However, Adam Silver won praise the following day by firmly supporting Morey’s right to freedom of expression, a stance which saw him join the Rockets GM as China’s chief targets of outrage.