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Rockets quickly distance themselves from Dayrl Morey Tweet about Hong Kong

Houston Rockets Introduce Russell Westbrook - Press Conference

HOUSTON, TX - JULY 26: General Manager Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets talk to the media during the Houston Rockets Introductory Press Conference on July 26, 2019 at the Toyota Center in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Bill Baptist/NBAE via Getty Images)

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Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has said plenty of controversial things before, and when it’s basketball-related the team and owner will have his back.

However, on Friday night, as the Rockets were headed to Japan for an NBA exhibition game, Morey got political and posted a now-deleted Tweet about the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. He posted the image and verbiage — “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” — used on official protest websites.

That brought a quick rebuke from Morey’s boss, Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta.

Fertitta told Tim MacMahon of ESPN not to read too much into this, Morey’s relationship with him and the organization is all good.

The NBA has worked hard for years to establish itself in the vast Chinese market, and the Rockets — thanks to Yao Ming — remain one of the most popular teams in China. Morey’s Tweet brought backlash from official sources and Chinese people/bots on Weibo (the Chinese social media platform).

Protests in Hong Kong have been going on for months, which started with people in the semi-autonomous region protesting a new extradition law that allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China. Those protests have grown in both size and scope, morphing into a larger movement as residents there strive to keep their freedoms and push back against Chinese interference in the region. China itself has responded with increasingly intense crackdowns on the protestors, which included one protestor being shot.