Philadelphia 76ers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey caused a big stir last year when he expressed support for a protest group in Hong Kong. It became such a controversial move that Morey thought his NBA front office career was in jeopardy.
"In the last 12 months, I had moments where I thought I might never work in the NBA again, for reasons I was willing to go down for," Morey told ESPN's Jackie MacMullan. "But I love working, I love what I do, and I didn't want that to happen."
Morey originally tweeted (and deleted) a photo that featured the statement "Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong" in support of the Hong Kong protests on Oct. 4, 2019. The protests in Hong Kong began in opposition of controversial legislation that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
It's quite the contrary, as Morey has friends in Hong Kong and knowledge of the plights that city residents face living in the country.
The backlash to the tweet worried him greatly, however.
"I was extremely concerned. You don't want the second-most powerful government on Earth mad at you, if you can avoid it. In this case, I couldn't," he told ESPN, adding that at one point following the tweet, he was "really, really worried" for the safety of his family.
Despite those fears, Morey is "very comfortable with what I did."
The NBA and commissioner Adam Silver weren't as comfortable.
"I do know there are consequences from freedom of speech; we will have to live with those consequences," Silver said in October of 2019. "For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business."
Four months later, Silver told the New York Times that the NBA's now complicated relationship with China was expected to lose the league "hundreds of millions of dollars."
The 2019-20 season proved to be Morey's last with the Rockets as he resigned from his position on Oct. 15. Just two weeks later, Morey was hired by the Sixers as the team's president of basketball operations.