Houston Rockets GM's China tweet was 'bad timing': Former NBA player

Former NBA player Al Harrington questioned Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweeting his support for anti-government protesters in Hong Kong.

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“It just wasn’t his business to speak on it,” Harrington told FOX Business’ Charles Payne on "Varney & Co."

With his tweet, Morey sparked concern over the Chinese government’s censoring U.S. institutions when they are critical of the communist regime or point out alleged Chinese human-rights abuses.

Harrington was supportive of Morey’s tweet “because of freedom of speech” but he acknowledged: “Obviously, it was just a tough situation.” He continued to say Morey “was in China, and he sent out a tweet like that of something he probably didn’t just understand.”

In reaction to the Rockets' general manager’s tweet, on Oct. 8, China’s state-owned broadcaster CCTV and Tencent digital platform suspended planned broadcasts of NBA preseason games, FoxBusiness.com reported.

Payne pushed back against the claim that Morey did not understand what he was doing when he, asking “Well what part didn’t he understand? That there are millions of people who didn’t want China’s abuse of government system ... to hurt them, or they don’t want to be extradited from Hong Kong to China?”

Harrington responded, citing the poor timing of the tweet as the NBA attempts to grow its presence in China.

“A lot of players, especially in the NBA ... spent a lot of money [and] energy in making an investment in China establishing great relationships and, you know, you don’t want to see it all crumble down because of one tweet," Harrington said.

The NBA’s five-year deal with Tencent to stream NBA games in China is said to be worth $1.5 billion, according to a FoxBusiness.com report. As of 2018, the league’s business in China is estimated to be worth more than $4 billion—or $133 million for each franchise.

Pointing out hypocrisy, Payne asks of the NBA and NBA players: “When they critique social issues in [the U.S.], do they have any credibility if they draw the line when it comes to their wallets?”

Earlier in the interview, Payne cited companies like Nike who say, according to Payne: “Make a sacrifice, even if you lose everything.”

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Harrington concluded on a hopeful note by reaffirming the NBA and China are in a really tough spot, but “that over time, they will be able to figure it out.”