Donald Trump’s reaction to Tilman Fertitta bringing up Daryl Morey, Hong Kong controversy
Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta fielded questions about his franchise and the NBA’s potential return from an unlikely source on Monday: President Donald Trump.
During a meeting at the White House about the restaurant industry, Trump brought up Houston’s continued employment of general manager Daryl Morey after his tweet supporting the Hong Kong anti-government protests last October caused a massive fallout between China and the NBA.
“[Morey] did cause you a little ruckus. Whatever happened to him by the way? Is he still working for you?…He must be pretty good,” President Donald Trump asked the Rockets owner (per Sopan Deb of New York Times).
“It’s a trick question, but he is” Tilman Fertitta responded.
Last week, China’s CCTV released a statement saying that it is not planning on televising NBA games upon the league’s return — a stance that has been in place since the NBA refused to discipline or condemn Morey for his pro-democracy message. Commissioner Adam Silver estimated that the Rockets-China controversy had cost the league upwards of $300 million in revenue.
Trump also asked Fertitta: “What do you do with your basketball players that are making $25 million a year?”
The Rockets boss pointed out he has two players who make upwards of $40 million annually (James Harden and Russell Westbrook), whom Trump acknowledged as “good players.”
The president also asked Fertitta what’s going to happen with basketball, to which the NBA owner expressed optimism that the 2019-20 season will resume “if things keep going in the way that it’s going.”
Fertitta noted the league would likely decide to “play some games just to get it going again and create the interest and then go right into the playoffs.”
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