76ers executive Daryl Morey feared for safety after Hong Kong tweet: ‘I was extremely concerned’

A lot has changed since Daryl Morey pressed send on a tweet demonstrating support for protesters in Hong Kong last year.

At that time, Morey was the general manager of the Houston Rockets. Russell Westbrook and James Harden hadn't yet played a game together for that organization; Westbrook is a Washington Wizard now and Harden seems to want to be anywhere but Houston. 

Morey already got out; he resigned from his role after a tumultuous year, citing a desire to spend more time with family, only to take the Philadelphia 76ers' president of basketball operations role two weeks later. 

Having a job at all, on top of a sense of security, both professional and physical, is a situation for which Morey is grateful. 

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Daryl Morey, the 76ers' president of basketball operations. (Photo: Jim Poorten, NBAE via Getty Images)

"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 in a story published Wednesday. "But I love working, I love what I do, and I didn't want that to happen."

On Oct. 4, 2019, Morey tweeted "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." People in Hong Kong had been protesting a law that would allow the extradition of fugitives who are wanted in mainland China. According to ESPN, Morey learned about the intricacies of Hong Kong politics from business school classmates and is well-versed on the atmosphere. 

 "I'm very comfortable with what I did," he told ESPN. 

The Chinese government met Morey's tweet with derision and pulled Rockets games — and eventually all league games — off state-owned CCTV. At the 2020 All-Star Game, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver estimated Morey's tweet cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars in business. 

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Still, the league nor Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta gave into the Chinese government's desire to have Morey lose his job. But Morey's concerns extended far past job security, to the safety of his family (Morey and his wife have two children). 

"I was actually really, really worried about that," Morey told ESPN. "Luckily I had (access to) different people who were assisting me with that and giving me advice on how to handle it. Hopefully, I've been able to get where we have some level of safety

"But 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."

Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.

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