AP

NBA’s reaction to Morey tweet differs in English, Chinese

Oct 8, 2019, 5:57 AM
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, talks to Houston Rockets' P. J. Tucker while Toronto Raptors' F...
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, left, talks to Houston Rockets' P. J. Tucker while Toronto Raptors' Fred VanVleet talks to Rakuten, Inc. Chairman & CEO Mickey Mikitani, right, during a welcome reception for the NBA Japan Games 2019 between the Toronto Raptors and the Houston Rockets in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Oct. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)
(AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

BEIJING (AP) — The NBA put out one statement reacting to Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the Hong Kong protest movement.

Depending on which language it was read in, the league’s words had very different meaning.

politically charged disagreement over Morey’s tweet that showed support for Hong Kong anti-government protesters got an additional wrinkle when the NBA posted a statement Monday on Weibo — a Twitter-like microblogging site used in China — saying the league was “extremely disappointed” by what it called an “inappropriate” comment. The same post said the NBA’s stance was that Morey’s view “severely hurt the feelings of Chinese fans.”

Thing is, the league never actually said those words.

NBA spokesman Mike Bass’ statement, which had only one version and was delivered in English, began like this: “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.”

It continued, but never said “extremely disappointed,” ”inappropriate” or “severely hurt the feelings” of anyone.

“There should be no discrepancy on the statement issued last night,” Bass said Monday. “We have seen various interpretations of the translation of the Mandarin version, but our statement in English is the league’s official statement.”

The “hurt feelings” phrase is commonly used by Chinese authorities to describe perceived gaffes by foreign parties. Similar phrasing was used by Mercedes-Benz in February 2018 when it had to apologize for quoting the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in a social media post. The auto company apologized for “wrong information” that “hurt the feelings of Chinese people.”

Morey tweeted a now-deleted image that read “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” in reference to four months of pro-democracy demonstrations in the semiautonomous Chinese territory, which has been mired in escalating violence between protesters and law enforcement.

As a result of the tweet, the Chinese Basketball Association — whose president is Yao Ming, the former Rockets center — said Sunday it was suspending its relationship with the team, and Chinese media giant Tencent and Chinese state television said they would no longer be broadcasting Rockets games.

Fallout continued Monday when two NBA G League games between Houston’s affiliate and Dallas’ affiliate, scheduled to be played this month in China, were canceled.

Scott Kennedy, a Senior Adviser and Trustee Chair in Chinese Business and Economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said nuance can be extremely important when converting English to Mandarin and vice versa.

“As U.S.-China relations deteriorate and both sides sort of move into this nationalistic crouch, the difficulty of speaking to broad audiences in both the United States and China without offending at least one of them is extremely difficult,” Kennedy said. “Sometimes when you try to use nuance, what you do is mollify one side while upsetting the other. And so a turn of a phrase in one language or another is potentially going to get some party in one of the countries extremely upset.”

The divergent language in the NBA’s Chinese Weibo statement appears to be an effort to assuage people in China who have expressed outrage over Morey’s initial tweet, though Monday’s post appeared to be insufficient for many on Weibo. Commenters accused Morey of supporting Hong Kong independence and called on Chinese basketball fans to boycott the NBA.

Morey’s tweet prompted a wave of censure from Chinese companies.

A search Monday for Houston Rockets merchandise on Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao turned up zero results. Li-Ning, a major Chinese sporting goods brand, said in a statement Sunday it was suspending cooperation with the Rockets because of Morey’s “mistaken remarks.” Hupu, a sports news website, has likewise suspended all coverage of the Rockets and locked the section of its website previously dedicated to the team.

Meanwhile, some U.S. lawmakers and even Democratic presidential candidate Julian Castro have condemned the NBA for succumbing to Chinese censorship. The NBA has allowed and even encouraged its players and coaches to be outspoken on social and political issues in the United States, which makes this move stand out.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., lashed out at the NBA for its response and accused the league of bowing to China in order to protect economic interests. McCarthy tweeted that “the NBA seems more worried about losing business than standing up for freedom. Shameful.”

A former British colony, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under the framework of “one country, two systems,” which promises the territory certain democratic freedoms not afforded to the mainland. Some anti-government protesters in recent months have violently expressed their opposition to the ruling Communist Party.

___

AP Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds in Miami and researcher Yu Bing in Beijing contributed to this report.

___

More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Today’s Top Stories

AP

a small boy recieves a COVID-19 vaccine in China...
JOE McDONALD Associated Press

China eases anti-COVID measures following protests

Experts warn, however, that restrictions can’t be lifted completely until at least mid-2023 because millions of elderly people still must be vaccinated.
12 hours ago
A memorial is pictured near the scene of the Colorado shooting at Club Q...
COLLEEN SLEVIN Associated Press

Colorado gay club shooting suspect charged with hate crimes

Investigators say Anderson Lee Aldrich entered Club Q, a sanctuary for the LGBTQ community in this mostly conservative city, just before midnight on Nov. 19.
2 days ago
DOHA, QATAR - NOVEMBER 25: A giant flag of IR Iran on the pitch prior to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2...
ALI ABDUL-HASSAN and ABBY SEWELL Associated Press

US-Iran match reflects a regional rivalry for many Arab fans

The U.S. team’s must-win World Cup match against Iran will be closely watched across the Middle East, where the two nations have been engaged in a cold war for over four decades and where many blame one or both for the region’s woes.
9 days ago
Irene Cara in 'Fame' (Photo courtesy of Mgm/Kobal, Shutterstock)...
MARK KENNEDY, AP Entertainment Writer

‘Fame’ and ‘Flashdance’ singer-actor Irene Cara dies at 63

singer-actress Irene Cara, who starred and sang the title cut from the 1980 hit movie “Fame” and then belted out the era-defining hit “Flashdance ... What a Feeling” from 1983's “Flashdance,” has died. She was 63.
11 days ago
The U.S. Coast Guard ship Bernard C. Webber, leaves the coast guard base, Monday, July 19, 2021, in...
Associated Press

‘Miracle’: Missing cruise ship passenger found OK in water

The U.S. Coast Guard says a passenger who went overboard from a cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico was rescued on Thanksgiving after likely being in the water for hours.
12 days ago
FILE - A Montana man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in the Capitol riot. (AP P...
The Associated Press

Montana man gets 3 years in prison for role in Capitol riot

A Montana man will spend three years in federal prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S Capitol.
13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
NBA’s reaction to Morey tweet differs in English, Chinese