NBA: League supports freedom of speech, ‘live with those consequences’

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NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says Tuesday, the league is not apologizing for Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey's now-deleted tweet showing support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters.

Silver’s comments come after China's state-controlled CCTV network cancelled plans to broadcast NBA’s pre-season games in China later this week.

Silver says Morey has the right to freedom of expression.

Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner: "We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression. I regret, again, having communicated directly with many friends in China, that so many people are upset, including millions and millions of our fans. I mean at the end of the day, you know, we come with basketball as an opportunity to sell dreams, sell hopes, that to increasingly focus on physical fitness, mental health - and to the extent that we are causing disruption in people's lives and that we are causing disharmony, that's something I regret."

Silver highlights the league’s values and hopes the Chinese will see the situation in the context of their long-standing relationship.

[Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner]: “Essentially what I've said in that statement is that the long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and certainly freedom of expression by members of the NBA community. And in this case, Daryl Morey, as the general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees. .. I understand that there are consequences from that exercise, in essence his freedom of speech, and you know we will have to live with those consequences. It's my hope that for our Chinese fans and our partners in China they will see those remarks in the context of now a three decade if not longer relationship."

He comments on CCTV’s decision to cancel the broadcast of NBA’s pre-season games.

[Adam Silver, NBA Commissioner]: “I think it's unfortunate, but if that's the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it's critically important we adhere to those values. ... It's my hope that when I'm in Shanghai, I can meet with the appropriate officials and discuss where we stand. And again, put those remarks from Daryl Morey and my remarks in an appropriate context of a many decades long relationship. And see if we can find mutual respect for each other's political systems and beliefs. But I'm a realist as well, and I recognize this issue may not die down so quickly."

The rift between China and the NBA sparked off last Friday when Morey tweeted a now-deleted image that read, "Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong," in support of the pro-democracy protesters.

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