James Harden is apologizing to China -- insisting he "loves" the country -- after his team's general manager caused an international crap storm by tweeting out support for Hong Kong.
"We apologize. We love China," Harden said while standing next to Houston Rockets teammate Russell Westbrook.
"We love playing there. Both of us, we go there once or twice a year," Harden added.
"We appreciate them as a fan base. We love everything there about them, and we appreciate the support that they give us individually and as [an] organization."
So, what's the issue?
On Friday, Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out 7 words ... "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong."
If you're unaware of the issues between China and Hong Kong ... there's big drama between the two sides at the moment.
Beijing currently controls many aspects of the former British colony, where there's been 4 months of violent pro-democracy protests.
The NBA has a huge presence in China, where the league has made a concentrated effort to grow for years ... but Morey's tweet REALLY pissed off the Asian country.
In just a few days, China's state broadcaster said it was pulling Houston Rockets games off the air. Sponsors have abandoned the Rockets and the NBA is scrambling to try and smooth things over ASAP.
And, massive Chinese e-commerce site Taobao has pulled all Rockets merchandise.
On Sunday, Morey tweeted about the issues ... saying, "I did not intend my tweet to cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of mine in China."
"I was merely voicing one thought, based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives."
"I have always appreciated the significant support our Chinese fans and sponsors have provided and I would hope that those who are upset will know that offending or misunderstanding them was not my intention. My tweets are my own and in no way represent the Rockets or the NBA."
U.S. presidential candidates are now weighing in on the issue -- with Beto O'Rourke tweeting, "The only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization of profits over human rights. What an embarrassment."
What's going to be interesting ... the Lakers are supposed to play the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai later this week.