One of the most controversial happenings in recent NBA memory is when Daryl Morey tweeted in 2019 in support of the protests in Hong Kong. Morey was General Manager of the Houston Rockets at the time and had tweeted from his account. Regardless, the tweet blew up in the worst ways, with the Chinese government seeing it as foreign interference supporting protests in their country.
The matter reportedly cost a lot of money to the NBA, and even LeBron James was seemingly raging to teammates about Morey's tweets. LBJ even tried to get Adam Silver to punish Morey. And now, further reporting from ESPN's Mark Fainaru-Wada suggests that Brooklyn Nets owner, Joe Tsai, tried to get Morey fired from his job in the aftermath of the tweet. This information came to light on the ESPN Daily podcast.
“So now you’ve got this dynamic in which Morey’s being attacked, Tsai is responding in the way he’s responding, and the league is trying to find some middle ground here or figure out how it can exist even as two exhibition games are about to be played in China. And part of our reporting finds out that behind the scenes - though Tsai and the NBA deny this vehemently - behind the scenes, Tsai was seeking to get Morey fired.”
Further information from the same source suggests that the US government also had to get involved after Morey heard about this and was worried about the safety of his job.
“So one of the things that’s going on is Morey hears from at least one NBA owner that Tsai is trying to get him fired in order to appease the Chinese. Morey connects with a guy named Matt Turpin, who worked in the National Security Council in the Trump administration. Turpin and a couple others volunteer to help Morey, who believes he’s gonna get fired.
"One of the things Turpin tells us is he’s working back channels, both in the government and through the NBA, and said, his impression of Joe Tsai’s role in this was that he was extremely unhelpful. He was laying out to the other owners how completely unacceptable it was that anyone weigh in on Hong Kong, and it colored the way the rest of the league lined up against Daryl.”
"And again, I want to say the NBA and the Nets both strongly deny that Tsai intervened in any way, that he sought for an apology or any of those things."
The entire situation was way more complex than initially expected and apologies were made by Morey himself, by the Rockets as an organization, and by then Rockets talisman James Harden. This provides more insight to just how messy things can get at the top, and how careful everyone in the league has to be when involving themselves with politics.