Former Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey told ESPN on Wednesday he was “extremely concerned” about his family’s safety after his tweet backing Hong Kong demonstrators last year that caused a rift between China and the NBA.
“I was actually really, really worried about that,” said Morey, who posted the tweet in October 2019. “Luckily I had [access to] different people who were assisting me with that and giving me advice on how to handle it. Hopefully, I’ve been able to get where we have some level of safety.”
Morey, who is now president of basketball operations for the Philadelphia 76ers, stressed that he “was extremely concerned. You don’t want the second-most powerful government on Earth mad at you, if you can avoid it. In this case, I couldn’t.”
Hours after the tweet, and with the Chinese government pressing the NBA, Rockets owner Tillman Fertitta attempted to distance the organization from the remarks, and the NBA said it recognized that Morey’s comments “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China,” according to The Hill.
China Central Television did not show NBA games for a year after the incident.
Morey also told ESPN he was worried the incident might end his NBA career, saying “In the last 12 months, I had moments where I thought I might never work in the NBA again, for reasons I was willing to go down for.”
The NBA estimated it lost hundreds of millions of dollars over the issue, but, despite constant pressure from Chinese officials to fire Morey, the Rockets did not do so.
Morey announced his resignation from the Rockets two months ago, a year after the incident.