The NBA and China are in a Cold War after Houston Rockets owner, Daryl Morey, sent out a late Friday tweet in support of pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong and who among us hasn’t let out a late Friday night text or tweet that got them in trouble at work.
Supporting Hong Kong protestors is a bit of a problem when the company you work for has a close relationship with the totalitarian communist regime you are publicly disgracing.
It’s also a bit of a problem when you let that tweet fly days before the NBA is about to have a week in China of preseason games and NBA Cares events. The NBA inadvertently burned a bridge that they were seconds away from attempting to cross.
NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, is currently attempting to walk the tight rope of not only bowing down and cowering to China’s oppressive government while simultaneously not wanting to destroy one of the most lucrative business partners the NBA has.
CCTV, a Chinese Television company, has $1.3 billion exclusive rights to streaming games in China. There are million dollar sneakers deals on the line. HALF A BILLION people Chinese people watched at least one NBA game last season.
This is a market that the NBA cannot afford to fracture or corny dudes on Twitter won’t be able to mock WNBA contracts once China cuts ties and suddenly Steph Curry is making less than Sue Bird’s backup.
So naturally, Adam Silver and the NBA at large, are vaguely supporting Daryl Morey’s right to free speech as they also play with China’s hair and tell China how pretty they are.
As far as optics go, this stinks.
Regardless of how much we love a company, none of us enjoy seeing that company choose money over, ya know, human rights in Hong Kong.
In order to understand how nasty the NBA’s behavior is, let’s actually talk about what these Hong Kong protests are actually about.
Hong Kong has essentially been a sovereign city outside of China’s tyrannical bullshit. A recent bill was proposed to allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
This new bill would create a slippery slope where any Hong Kong criminal would get unfair and often brutal punishments thus giving China more control over Hong Kong.
This new legislation has encouraged Hong Kong citizens to say ‘fuck it, let’s get full democracy’. But these protests have turned violent in recent months with police shooting rubber bullets and tear gas and protesters chucking bricks like Trae Young.
The NBA is supposed to be ‘woke’ with players and coaches openly criticizing the president and being encouraged by the league to do so.
Some people are calling the NBA players hypocrites for their silence in regard to Hong Kong protests.
Guys like Clay Travis and Donald Trump are rejoicing in the hypocrisy. And by guys like Clay Travis and Donald Trump, I mean racists.
These same types of people were FURIOUS at Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the National Anthem and were pissed at LeBron and other NBA players for supporting Kaepernick.
And now they’re mad at these same individuals for NOT protesting. Do you see the problem here?
Just look at this reporter attempting to ‘catch’ James Harden and Russell Westbrook in a web before a Rockets official stepped in to redirect the press conference:
To some people, this is a ‘gotcha’ moment. Egg all over the NBA’s face. You’ll speak out against the president but you won’t stand up for Chinese democracy? Disgusting.
But I just wrote 3 short easily digestible paragraphs about the conflict in Hong Kong. It took me five hours of research to write those 3 quick paragraphs. Five hours.
In what world do we suddenly expect professional athletes to bust their laptops open and study foreign and global politicals for five hours on game day?
When players like James Harden and Chris Paul say they have no comment, they quite literally might not even know the severity of the problem you’re asking them about and that’s totally fine because they don’t have to.
BREAKING: you don’t need to have an opinion on everything.
I’ve gone years of my life without ever thinking about China once. It’s not a big deal nor should we all be expected to drop everything and learn about every government on the planet.
It’s far easier to comment on domestic affairs especially when they are directly affecting your life and your community.
We have opinions on Colin Kaepernick’s protests because it was bringing light to police brutality—a struggle that we’ve been dealing with for generations and have had our entire lives to formulate opinions on.
But according to the Right, if NBA players feel comfortable publicly criticizing the president then surely they are required to keep that same energy when it comes to Hong fucking Kong.
Why can’t you guys just come out and say ‘we don’t like black people’ so we don’t have to go through these charades any longer where we turn molehills into mountains and stand on false intellectual equivalencies for the sake of winking at fellow racists who are also blowing the hell out of their dog whistles.
There’s a high probability that Trump wasn’t even aware of these Hong Kong protests until he saw that the NBA was involved and he wasted no time attacking Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich for their silence in the matter.
I tried to search for Donald Trump’s feelings regardless Chinese democracy and had a difficult time finding where he stands on the issue but it’s interesting that the man who doesn’t believe in anything except for filing for bankruptcy and raping women, has decided to call out a couple NBA coaches for not joining the frontlines of the protest.
I wonder who Trump hates more: black people or white people who defend black people?
Yes, the NBA’s catering to China is nasty and the optics aren’t great. But you can have a billion dollar partnership or you can be ‘right’. You can’t have both.
There is no morality when you’re Scrooge McDucking in a pool of cash.
The NBA is not a nonprofit. The players aren’t volunteering every night to play for free just so they can bring awareness to all injustice in the world.
The NBA is a business making business decisions.
And Daryl Morey, the tinder box that started all of this, should be aware of this before firing off a tweet against the Chinese government.
The world isn’t black or white.
You can be right and wrong at the same time.
Daryl Morey supporting Chinese democracy was absolutely right. Fuck China. (Unless you want to sponsor Deadseriousness in which case, fuck Morey).
But sometimes there are consequences to being right and in the NBA’s case, that miight be a shitload of dollars.
The only thing I learned from this exercise is that even in a dispute with China, black people are still vilified.
Also, don’t tweet or text late Friday night.