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Hong Kong protests

US lawmakers blast NBA for apologizing to China over HK tweet

Mainland boycotts Houston Rockets after general manager supports protests

The NBA's Houston Rockets gained a following in China after drafting star center Yao Ming, who played on the team for several seasons.   © Reuters

SHANGHAI/NEW YORK -- Comments by the Houston Rockets general manager supporting the protests in Hong Kong have unleashed a political tornado, sparking a boycott in the mainland but also drawing harsh criticism of the National Basketball Association from American lawmakers for apologizing to China.

The incident thrust the Rockets, once beloved by the Chinese as former star Yao Ming's old team, and the NBA into the lion's den, forcing them to tiptoe around democratic values and freedom of speech with billions of dollars on the line.

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