Discrepancies between NBA statements released Sunday night in English and Chinese have relayed different messaging in the wake of the growing issue between the NBA, China and the United States after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s pro-Hong Kong tweet.
Following Morey’s since-deleted Tweet showing support for Hong Kong and then Chinese businesses halting business operations with the Rockets, the NBA released a statement from the league’s executive vice president of communications Mike Bass.
"We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” Bass said. “While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. 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.”
However, a statement posted in Chinese by the NBA on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging site, appeared different, according to translators.
“We feel greatly disappointed at Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey’s inappropriate speech, which is regrettable," the statement read. "Without a doubt, he has deeply offended many Chinese basketball fans. Morey has clarified that his stance on this issue does not represent either Houston Rockets or the NBA. From NBA’s perspective, people can be interested in different subjects and freely share their opinions. We take respecting Chinese history and culture as a serious matter. We also hope that sports and the NBA, as a unified source of positive energy, can continue to build bridges between countries and bring people together. "
Morey and Fertitta (Photo: Troy Taormina)
The first sentence in each statement offers different messages – one seemingly a soft apology for Morey’s tweet and the other a strong rebuke of Morey’s tweet. Morey also followed up his original tweet with two more tweets saying he did not mean to offend Rockets fans and his friends in China.
In a statement provided to USA TODAY Sports, Bass said the English version is the only statement.
“There should be no discrepancy on the statement issued last night,” Bass said in a text message. “We have seen various interpretations of the translation of the Mandarin version, but our statement in English is the league’s official statement.”
It’s possible something was lost in translation or that the statement was altered for a mainland Chinese audience unbeknownst to the NBA.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver is in Tokyo for two NBA preseason games this week before heading to China for two more preseason games, and he spoke to reporters on Monday, reiterating his support of Morey's right to free speech.
“I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear … that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression,” Silver said, according to Kyodo News.
Follow Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt
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