Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has said notably little since GM Daryl Morey’s pro-democracy tweets about Hong Kong. But in written answers delivered through a spokeswoman to The New York Times, he cleared up some — but not many — questions about the situation.
Fertitta told the Times that he “never considered firing or punishing Daryl” following his tweets. His response came days after NBA commissioner Adam Silver revealed that China had asked for Morey to be fired, though China later refuted that comment.
Fertitta had previously tweeted once to distance himself and the team from Morey, but also told ESPN that things were “fine” in their relationship.
Listen....@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn https://t.co/yNyQFtwTTi— Tilman Fertitta (@TilmanJFertitta) October 5, 2019
When asked why he quickly distanced himself from Morey, Fertitta said he wanted there to be a distinction between Morey speaking on behalf of the team and of himself.
“I felt it was important to make the distinction between Daryl speaking as a private citizen and Daryl as a representative of the Houston Rockets,” Fertitta said, adding: “We have never commented on another country’s foreign policy.”
He declined further comment as to whether he would have handled the situation differently in hindsight. Fertitta, however, has often spoken on political issues, including his views on topics like socialism and anthem-kneeling demonstrations. He also has been a frequent donor to Republican causes, including Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign in Texas.
Fertitta bought the Rockets in 2017 for a then-record $2.2 billion, and was described by the Times as generally being “outspoken.” He’s made the bulk of his wealth in the restaurant and hospitality business, and is known outside of the sports world as the host of the CNBC show “Billion Dollar Buyer.”
More from Yahoo Sports: