Nets owner Joe Tsai posts lengthy open letter about Daryl Morey situation

Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai speaks to reporters during a news conference. (Mary Altaffer/AP)

Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai published a lengthy open letter via Facebook on Sunday to address the situation regarding Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey and his recent comments about China.

Morey finds himself mired in controversy after sending out a since-deleted tweet late Friday evening that had the message “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” — the result of which was the Chinese Basketball Association suspending its relationship with the Rockets, and the Rockets’ owner publicly distancing the team from Morey’s comments.

Tsai, the co-founder of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba who bought controlling interest of the Nets in September, wrote that he “didn’t expect [his] first public communication with [Nets] fans would be to comment on something as politically charged and grossly misunderstood as the way hundreds of millions of Chinese NBA fans feel about what just happened,” but that he was compelled to do so given “Chinese fans have reacted extremely negatively” to Morey’s tweet, and “are calling for an explanation.”

“If they are not getting it from the Houston Rockets, then it is natural that they ask others associated with the NBA to express a view. The NBA is a fan-first league. When hundreds of millions of fans are furious over an issue, the league, and anyone associated with the NBA, will have to pay attention,” Tsai wrote. “As a Governor of one of the 30 NBA teams, and a Chinese having spent a good part of my professional life in China, I need to speak up.”

Tsai said he believes Morey waded into what he described as a “third-rail issue” in regards to the situation involving China and Hong Kong, providing a historical perspective on the issue.

“By now I hope you can begin to understand why the Daryl Morey tweet is so damaging to the relationship with our fans in China,” Tsai wrote. “I don’t know Daryl personally. I am sure he’s a fine NBA general manager, and I will take at face value his subsequent apology that he was not as well informed as he should have been. But the hurt that this incident has caused will take a long time to repair.

“I hope to help the League to move on from this incident. I will continue to be an outspoken NBA Governor on issues that are important to China.”

The NBA also released a statement regarding the situation, saying the league “recognize[s] that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China” and hopes “the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”


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