Sportress of Blogitude

Rockets, NBA roasted over team’s Happy Chinese New Year tweet

The Houston Rockets and NBA were roundly mocked on social media over a tweet in which the team’s players wish a Happy New Year to their fans in China.

The Rockets are one of the most popular NBA teams in China, which is largely attributed to how national hero Yao Ming spent his entire nine-year career with the organization. Said standing is presumably why the Rockets felt the tweeted message celebrating Chinese New Year 2020 — which falls on Saturday, Jan. 25 — was a great idea, at least in theory.

“To all the Chinese fans, we appreciate your love and support,” Rockets players, including James Harden and Russell Westbrook, say in the posted message before wishing fans a Happy New Year in Chinese.

Many of the responses to the video on social media struck a similar tone, and those curated by Mediaite were certainly dripping with snark.

The social media shade of course comes amid the backdrop of the controversy involving the NBA and China from last fall. It began when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. The dispatch led to palatable tension in the longstanding — not to mention extremely lucrative — relationship the NBA enjoys with China.

It also resulted in a tremendous amount of backlash against the NBA in the U.S., with the league accused of putting profits before human rights. Not only did the situation elicit criticism of the league, it put some of the NBA’s biggest stars in the middle of the firestorm and even landed LeBron James in the crosshairs of the public’s ire.

It stands to reason that both the Rockets and the NBA expected some pushback over the tweet. That being said, with the league working to repair its fractured relationship with China, the assumption is the league felt the risk was deemed well worth the potential reward.