Source: Rockets Could Lose Millions Over GM Daryl Morey's Tweet
Fallout from Rockets GM Daryl Morey's tweet about protests in Hong Kong "could cost" the team between $10-25M, as well as "jobs in China, Houston and around the NBA," according to a source cited in a front-page piece by Feigen & Takahashi of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. The Rockets have "long been tight-lipped about the value of their Chinese business, but in recent years the franchise has typically partnered with five to seven Chinese companies with additional multinational companies seeking relationships with the Rockets to expand their brand into China." China-based Tencent announced that it would "suspend all broadcasts of Rockets games and coverage of the team." The China Basketball Association, which is chaired by Yao Ming, also "suspended its relationship with the Rockets." Chinese sports apparel company Li-Ning also announced it would "suspend its relationship" with the team, and more "Chinese sponsors are expected to flee." APCO Worldwide Managing Dir James Robinson said that the Rockets "helped popularize basketball in China after drafting" Ming in '02, and "may weather the geopolitical storm better than most." Feigen & Takahashi note the Rockets are the "second-favorite in China" after the Warriors, and have "millions of followers on Chinese social media outlets such as Weibo" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/8). In China, Sun & Heng note China's "biggest online shopping platform, Taobao," which is owned by Alibaba, has "removed all Rockets-related products from its e-commerce outlets" as of yesterday afternoon (CHINA DAILY, 10/8).
MAKING MOREY MOVES? The CHRONICLE's Feigen cited a source as saying that the Rockets are "not considering dismissing" Morey, and have "had no discussions about such an extreme step" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 10/7). The Colorado Springs Gazette's Woody Paige does not think Morey should be fired and said, "He continues to respond and rethink his position in regard to what he tweeted" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 10/7). The GLOBE & MAIL's Cathal Kelly writes it would be "too embarrassing for the Rockets to sack Morey now," and he will instead "spend the next few months professionally bleeding out." Kelly: "Once everyone's forgotten he did this, then the Rockets can toss him overboard. For basketball reasons, of course" (GLOBE & MAIL, 10/8).
KICKING A HORNET'S NEST: In DC, Ben Golliver writes it is "neither disgraceful nor surprising that Morey would try to get back to business as usual once he realized that he had inadvertently triggered a massive storm." But Morey "must understand that he did far more harm than good for the cause he tried to support" (WASHINGTON POST, 10/8). ESPN's Pablo Torre: "This was a massive, massive strategic mistake, if there was any strategy involved" ("High Noon," ESPN2, 10/7).