As Nets land in Shanghai, Joe Tsai steps into growing dispute between China and NBA
Nets owner Joe Tsai, the first Chinese owner of an NBA franchise, on Monday stepped into a growing controversy that threatens to embroil the league in the geopolitical divide between protesters in Hong Kong and the central government in Beijing.To get more shanghai china news, you can visit shine news official website.
As the Nets team charter was approaching Shanghai where the team will play the first of two preseason games this week, Tsai released an “Open letter to all NBA fans” via Facebook offering his thoughts on the controversy that began with Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s open support of the protests in a tweet Friday night.
While conceding that Morey has a right to “freely express” his opinion, Tsai also suggested that Houston executive should have understood the dispute in Hong Kong is a “third rail” in Chinese culture for historical reasons.
Tsai portrayed the protests not as grass roots attempts at further self-determination in the former British colony but as a “separatist movement” and a threat to China’s “territorial integrity,” borrowing the language of Beijing and its supporters in Hong Kong. Tsai noted that integrity is a concern not just for Beijing but for the country’s 1.4 billion people.
Meanwhile, ESPN reported that Tsai, who bought the Nets and Barclays Center for $3.5 billion last month, is playing a key role in trying to get the dispute resolved. Ramona Shelburne tweeted that Tsai has been crucial in the NBA’s discussions with Chinese officials.
In his statement, Tsai seemed to suggest that he may indeed be involved and in fact, the statement is an attempt to help the league and its fans both in North American and China understand the issue…
The controversy moved quickly and seemed to surprise Morey, the Rockets and the NBA at a particularly sensitive time. The Nets and Lakers are playing games Thursday and Saturday vs. the Lakers and Adam Silver is expected to hold a press conference in China later this week, all against the back-drop of the 70th anniversary of the Communists’ triumph and reunification of the country in 1949. The Silver press conference had been expected to focus on the league’s successes in the world’s most populous country but is now likely to be taken up by the controversy.
The games, too, are now likely to become secondary to the controversy. Tsai in fact argued in his statement that “the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair” and pleaded with the Chinese fan base to “keep the faith in what the NBA and basketball can do to unite people from all over the world.”
Morey, who reportedly has friends in Hong Kong, wrote in now-deleted tweet Friday “fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” The response by Chinese authorities and businesses was swift and telling.
On Sunday, the Chinese Basketball Association, headed by former Rocket Hall of Famer Yao Ming issued a statement that expressed its “strong opposition” to what it called Morey’s “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong.” The CBA said it was suspending “exchanges and cooperation” with the Rockets. Two video outlets said they would not run Rocket games and two major sponsors, including shoe brand Li Ning, suspended their relationship with the Rockets. The Chinese Basketball Association even canceled G League exhibition games between Rockets and Mavericks affiliates scheduled later this month in China. The Rockets had been immensely popular in China because of Yao’s years with the team.
The Chinese Consulate in Houston also issued a statement urging the Rockets to “correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.”
Tillman Fertitta, the Rockets owner, distanced himself from the tweet, saying “we are NOT a political organization” and Morey himself issued a statement, “I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China,” adding “I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event.”