Senate Republicans have shown outrage at the Houston Rockets NBA team for apologizing to China for a tweet supporting Hong Kong's relentless anti-China protests. They have also called out the National Basketball Association for seemingly siding China, its biggest market outside the U.S.

GOP anger was directed at the owner of the Rockets, who issued a groveling apology to China after its general manager, Daryl Morey, on Friday shared an image on Twitter that read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong.”

His tweet immediately ignited backlash in China, a huge source of revenue for the NBA, which is pinning its future growth on this country with the largest NBA fan base in the world.

Much of the GOP anger, and that of the general public, was directed at Rockets' team owner Tilman Fertitta who tweeted late Friday that Morey “does NOT speak” for the Rockets. Fertitta emphasized the Rockets is “NOT a political organization.” He is also sole owner of Landry's, Inc., one of the largest restaurant corporations in the U.S.

NBA spokesman Michael Bass also issued a statement Sunday affirming Fertitta's stand. He said Morey’s views “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.”

Morey himself apologized Sunday. He said he “did not intend (his) tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China.” He said he was “merely voicing one thought” and hoped “those who are upset know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention.”

Rockets' star point guard James Harden made matters worse by issuing the most servile of apologies saying, "We apologize. We love China."

This collective groveling by the Rockets incensed Republican lawmakers. Republican Senators Marco Rubio (R-TX), Rick Scott (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Josh Hawley (R-MI) have issued statements blasting the Rockets since Sunday.

Rubio said the NBA threw Morey “under the bus to please” the Chinese government. Scott was more scathing and revealed the extent of his revulsion in a tweet:

"It’s clear that the @NBA is more interested in money than human rights. Tonight’s statement from Commissioner Silver is an absolute joke.

"The NBA is kowtowing to Beijing to protect their bottom line and disavowing those with the temerity to #standwithHongKong. Shameful!"

Republican anger at the NBA for prioritizing money over human rights was shared by their Democratic Party colleagues in the Senate.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) tweeted “No one should implement a gag rule on Americans speaking out for freedom. I stand with the people of Hong Kong in their pursuit of democratic rights. I stand with Americans who want to voice their support for the people of Hong Kong. Unacceptable.”

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) have also slammed the NBA for bowing to China's will.

The Chinese Basketball Association and several companies since Sunday have suspended cooperation with the Rockets after Morey voiced support for Hong Kong’s anti-government protests.

Chinese sportswear brand Li-Ning, social media giant Tencent (whose online sports channel broadcasts NBA games and is the Rockets’ sponsor in China) and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank have temporarily ended their business dealings with the Rockets.

The Rockets are arguably the most popular NBA team in China because it drafted Chinese basketball star Yao Ming in 2002. Yao played eight seasons with the Rockets.

The Houston Rockets went to Asia for exhibition games but were plunged into a political firestorm following their general manager's tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong The Houston Rockets went to Asia for exhibition games but were plunged into a political firestorm following their general manager's tweet supporting pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong Photo: AFP / Toshifumi KITAMURA