Chinese state media has warned that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will face “retribution” for defaming China in the latest twist to a dispute that began with a basketball team executive tweeting his support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong . In a commentary on Saturday, state broadcaster CCTV said Silver had “crossed the bottom line” by continuing to defend Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, who posted an image on Twitter on October 4 saying “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong”. Making his first comments about the dispute since returning from a contentious visit to China for two preseason games, Silver said on Thursday that the Chinese government had asked the NBA to fire Morey . “We said there’s no chance that’s happening,” he said in an interview at the Time 100 Health Summit in New York. “There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.” But Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Friday that Beijing had never made such a demand. CCTV said Silver had crossed a line. “Silver has spared no effort to portray himself as a fighter for free speech and used freedom of speech as an excuse to cover for Morey, who voiced his support for the violent actors in Hong Kong,” it said. “This has crossed the bottom line of the Chinese people.” Silver’s handling of the controversy had proved his “double standards”, the broadcaster said, adding that he had “defamed” China on the international stage. “To please some American politicians, Silver has fabricated lies out of nothing and has sought to paint China as unforgiving,” it said. The way in which the NBA boss had defended Morey showed he had “problems in his character”, the report said, adding that he “will receive retribution sooner or later”. As the war of words continued, protesters wearing T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “Free Tibet” and “Stand With Hong Kong” or holding placards calling on the NBA to “Stand for Freedom” demonstrated at a preseason game between the Toronto Raptors and the Brooklyn Nets in New York on Friday night. The protests in Hong Kong began in June with a rally against a controversial and now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed the extradition of Hongkongers to mainland China. The unrest has become increasingly violent and the protesters now have five demands, including calls for universal suffrage in the city and an independent inquiry into allegations of police brutality. Morey’s tweet came just days before the preseason games between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai and Shenzhen. He later deleted the post but that failed to stop the backlash from mainland China. Several Chinese companies denounced him and severed their commercial ties with the Rockets, one of the most popular teams in China. Silver said on Friday that the financial fallout for the league had “already been substantial”. Besides the furore in China, the NBA also came under fire in the US when basketball fans and politicians accused it of bowing to pressure from Beijing by saying in its initial response to the dispute that it was “regrettable” Morey’s tweet had “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China”.