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Report: Daryl Morey’s Hong Kong tweet cost NBA $150-200M in revenue

The NBA found itself in the middle of an international firestorm earlier this season due to a social media dispatch from Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, and a report suggests it may have cost the league dearly in its lucrative business dealings in China.

The tweet from Morey that ensnared the league in controversy expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Hong. In the October tweet, Morey wrote, “Fight For Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong.”

The scandal spawned by Morey’s tweet unsurprisingly wreaked havoc upon the NBA’s business interests in the Chinese market. The China government’s response included a decision to pull sponsorships and television coverage related to the NBA.

According to the reporting by Adrian Wojnarowski and Bobby Marks of ESPN, league sources estimate that the fallout from the controversy cost the league upwards of $150-$200 million.

Such a substantial loss of league revenues could have a dramatic impact not only on the NBA’s bottom line, it could also lead to the league reevaluating where to set next season’s salary cap.

The loss of the league’s China-driven revenue has caused many teams to prepare for the possibility that the original 2020-21 cap projection of $116 million could drop as far as $113 million, front-office executives have told ESPN,” write Wojnarowski and Marks.

The NBA was roundly criticized in the U.S. for its initial response to the controversy, as the league was accused of putting profits before human rights.

The condemnation of the NBA’s alleged mishandling of the situation even put some of the NBA’s biggest stars in the middle of the firestorm and landed LeBron James in the crosshairs of the public’s ire.

Making matters worse, the China situation continues to cause the league headaches, as it even elicited further mockery as recently as a few weeks ago.