"I am here for Adam Silver" - Rockets' Harden

SHOWS: TOKYO, JAPAN (OCTOBER 9, 2019) (REUTERS - ACCESS ALL)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) HOUSTON ROCKETS PLAYER, JAMES HARDEN, SAYING:

"We all have freedom of speech, that is the world we live in. Everyone should (say) how they feel and their thought process, be able to speak it. Obviously some people are going to feel some type of ways, others are going to agree. That is just the world we live in. I am here for Adam Silver."

2. VARIOUS OF HOUSTON ROCKETS PLAYER, JAMES HARDEN, TRAINING

STORY: Houston Rockets' guard James Harden threw his support behind beleaguered NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Wednesday (October 9), after an escalation of the row over comments by a team official in support of protests in Hong Kong.

The tweet sent over the weekend by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey has angered fans and authorities in China, threatening a business said to be worth more than $4 billion in a country where about 500 million fans consume NBA content.

Morey deleted the tweet backing the Hong Kong protests and apologised on Monday (October 7), but Chinese broadcasters have cancelled airing of the pre-season game and sportswear companies and sponsors have said they are reviewing their ties with the NBA, which has had a presence in China since 1992.

Harden, the key player for Morey's Rockets who won the NBA Most Valuable Player award in 2018, told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday that he supports the commissioner and his defence of free speech. "I am here for Adam Silver," said Harden.

Silver, speaking on Tuesday (October 8) in Japan before a preseason game between the Rockets and Toronto Raptors, said it was not up to the league to regulate what players, employees and team owners said.