Both cases have illustrated the difficulty of navigating China's lucrative market.
And while the tweet was quickly deleted, the reaction from China has been swift and severe, with the Rockets going from one of the country's favorite teams to a blacklisted one nearly overnight.
If pro-Hong Kong protests continue to show up in various National Basketball Association arena, this story is likely to only go from bad to worse.
Morey could have had no idea the now-deleted tweet would touch off almost a week of controversy.
And I have to tell you, if you look at the market, 1.4 billion Chinese potential customers means that game six of the NBA Finals a year ago was actually better watched in China than in the United States.
The NBA Hall of Famer and former All-Star is by far his country's greatest player, and was a major factor in helping the NBA build up its fanbase in China, where Yao's eight-year career with the Rockets was closely followed. "It doesn't affect us chasing the stars", Xu Ziyang, a university student from Jiangsu, told Reuters.
Nonetheless, the fallout from the tweet continues in China. The league has deals with TV and digital media outlets across the country, and teams have played exhibition games annually since 2014.
City workers were reportedly going around tearing down advertisements for the game.
Nets players, executives and NBA China officials were to appear at a publicity event at a Shanghai primary school on Tuesday afternoon, but the league abruptly cancelled it just two hours before it was to start, giving no explanation. But with billions at stake from things like merchandise sales and media rights, some experts are wondering if anything other than an apology from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver will mend this fence, especially with the Chinese indicating that is what they want.
"I was once working from someone from Hong Kong, and we went to mainland China, and the person insisted upon washing the dishes in a restaurant ... on the grounds that they [believed] that the people in mainland China were incapable of washing dishes correctly", he said. "We believe that no comments challenging national sovereignty and social stability fall within the scope of freedom of expression". "Adam said something that helps you understand what direction you need to go in, rather than the cowardice of not being able to respond to something of the murder of [U.S. journalist Jamal] Khashoggi". Look, if Morey were way out of line about Hong Kong (he wasn't), then maybe it might be OK to ask him to apologize and distance yourself.
The move drew bipartisan criticism from lawmakers on Twitter.
The episode comes as a chinese censorship rules and heightened tension from Hong Kong protests have made it harder for America's giants like Disney to navigate the politics of the region. "People who don't live in #China must either self censor or face dismissal & suspensions".
Who is China to demand we give up our personal freedoms for their money?
Game six of the NBA 2019 finals was viewed by 21 million Chinese fans on Tencent platforms, according to the NBA, and 490 million users watched Tencent's NBA content during the 2018 season.