During NBA on TNT’s opening night coverage, the basketball veteran addressed the debate around Houston GM Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong remarks. The NBA issued an apology to Chinese fans for Morey’s remarks, sparking a backlash from pro-Hong activists.
Shaquille O’Neal addressed the rift between the NBA and China on Tuesday. The TNT analyst and NBA Hall of Famer also defended Rockets general manager Daryl Morey.
“One of our best values here in America is free speech, we’re allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak out on injustices and that’s just how it goes,” O’Neal said on TNT’s pregame show before NBA Opening Night on Tuesday. “Daryl Morey was right. Whenever you see something wrong going on anywhere in the world, you should have the right to say ‘that’s not right’ and that’s what [Morey] did.”
Shaq on Daryl Morey/China "One of our best values here in America is free speech we're allowed to say what we want to say and we are allowed to speak out on injustices and that's just how it goes. and if people don't understand that that's something they have to deal with. pic.twitter.com/vefcHSPlMD— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 22, 2019
Morey created an international incident on Oct. 4 when he tweeted an image with the phrase, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.” Houston’s GM quickly deleted the tweet, and Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta then distanced the organization from Morey’s tweet.
Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
NBA commissioner Adam Silver addressed the controversy on Oct. 17. He also lent support to Morey.
“We were being asked to fire [Morey], by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with in government and business,” Silver said at the TIME 100 Health Summit on Thursday. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”
The NBA season begins on Tuesday with a doubleheader on TNT. The Raptors host the Pelicans at 7 p.m. ET, and the Clippers face the Lakers at 9:30 p.m. ET.