HOUSTON - James Harden is the latest to weigh in after a falling out with China caused by a controversial tweet from the Houston Rockets' General Manager, Daryl Morey, in support of anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.
"We apologize. You know. We love China, we love playing there," Harden said. "We appreciate the support that they give us. Individually and as an organization.... so, you know, we love you."
It all started when Morey tweeted an image that read, "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong," in support of the anti-government protest brewing in the semi-autonomous territory of China for the last four months.
The Rockets are popular in China and the tweet sparked an outcry from the Chinese Basketball Association, presided over by former Rockets' star Yao Ming. Ming said it was suspending the CBA's relationship with the Rockets.
Rockets' owner Tilman Fertitta then stepped in to put distance between the team and Morey's tweet.
"Listen....@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization," Fertitta wrote.
NBA Chief Communications Officer Mike Bass said the outrage sparked by Morey's tweet was "regrettable."
"We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together," Bass said.
While many expressed outrage, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted his support of Morey.
Presidential candidate Andrew Yang also weighed in on the situation.
"The Chinese government banning the Rockets is a terrible move," Yang wrote.
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