SAN FRANCISCO — For nearly a week, the Warriors and the NBA have been dealt with controversy following a tweet from Rockets general manager Daryl Morey backing a Hong Kong protest.
In the fallout, NBA executives and China at large have denounced Morey’s comments. As for players and coaches — most have said they’re trying to get more educated on the topic before speaking on the controversy, a trend Warriors forward Draymond Green followed Thursday morning.
“I don’t really understand it so at this point I’m just trying to educate myself on all of it,” Green said. “Even the initial tweet that started this uproar, I don’t really understand what’s going on in Hong Kong or China. It’s hard enough trying to understand politics in America for me. I’m not knowledgeable enough to say much unless I just want to talk the talk and I never really do that. I don’t really know enough.”
Green’s comments come nearly a week after Morey tweeted and deleted “stand with Hong Kong” in support of protests happening in the city. The tweet caused a firestorm in Communist China, as country officials denounced the tweet and Chinese shoe companies Li Ning and Anta paused sponsorships with the Rockets. This week, CCTV — China’s state-run broadcast company — announced they canceled NBA preseason coverage. In response, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said he wouldn’t punish Morey for his tweet and hoped he could repair the league’s relationship with China.
“I think they’ve handled it well,” Green said. “The way Adam [Silver] has acted in that situation is no different than he’s he’s acted in any situation that’s taken place over the course of his tenure.”
Morey’s comments put the NBA and some of its players in an awkward position. Not only is China hosting exhibition games between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets this week, but the league has a lucrative business relationship with the Communist country. Tencent — a Chinese news company that signed a $1.5 billion streaming deal with the league in July — announced it would suspend all Rockets-related programming.
“It’s so broad, the statements that’s been released, I don’t really understand what it is that’s going on,” Green said. “I know that they’re pulling sponsorships and stuff back but like is that affecting the players that’s signed with them or not? Like I don’t quite get everything that’s going on enough to really even comment on it.”
The controversy also has ruffled feathers domestically. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have criticized the NBA for their response to this issue. That includes President Donald Trump, who took a jab at Warriors coach Steve Kerr — an outspoken advocate on many social topics — after Kerr gave a non-committal answer when asked about China, saying he didn’t know enough to comment.
For years, the Warriors have been the poster team for statements on social issues, ranging from gun-control to equal pay. But in recent days, the team has been mum on the China issue facing the NBA.
Following Kerr’s comments, the coach faced criticism by not giving a forceful statement, with some observers calling Kerr’s non-comment hypocritical. On Wednesday, Warriors guard Stephen Curry defended his coach.
For his part, Green said the current controversy wouldn’t stop team personnel from speaking out on topics going forward.
“I think any issue that touches you per sè, players are going to speak out about it,” Green said. “As Daryl did with this situation. When you speak out on an issue – its America so you have freedom of speech – you’ve never really had a reaction like this because its America and whatever your position is on a certain thing, if you want to take that position, you take that position.
“I’m sure he didn’t think like ‘Oh my god like it would cause this’ because you’re just doing what an American does which is if you have an opinion, if you’re going to speak on something, you speak on it,” Green continued. “I think its the first time that you actually spoke on another country and you kind of see the difference in the countries, which I’m sure no one expected it to be this, but like I said, it’s two completely different countries that’s on different ends of the spectrum. It’s been very interesting to see and learn about.”
Green said while players and coaches will remain outspoken, the latest issue between China and the NBA underscores the differences between the two countries.
“That’s a part of being an American. You operate in a manner of which Americans do and that’s kind of what happened,” he said. “It’s just happened to be involving a completely different country and that’s not what they do.”