Patterico's Pontifications


NBA General Manager’s Support For Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Sets Off Firestorm

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:37 am

[guest post by Dana]

To its shame, the NBA has chosen profit over moral rightness by kowtowing to the Chinese government with expressed regret for the Houston Rocket’s GM’s public support for Hong Kong protesters. Daryl Morey’s now-deleted tweet read, simply: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

One expects this reaction from China when publicly – and rightfully – shamed:

The Houston Rockets suddenly find themselves in the middle of a geopolitical controversy that could put their chief front-office executive’s job in jeopardy. After general manager Daryl Morey expressed support in a since-deleted tweet for pro-democracy efforts in Hong Kong, the Chinese government, the Chinese Basketball Association, and various Chinese businesses quickly denounced Morey and moved to sever ties with the Rockets. As a consequence, league sources told The Ringer that Rockets ownership has debated Morey’s employment status and whether to replace him.

On Sunday, the Chinese Basketball Association issued a statement on Weibo—a Chinese social media platform akin to Twitter—and expressed its “strong opposition” to what it called Morey’s “improper remarks regarding Hong Kong.” As a result, the CBA said it was suspending “exchanges and cooperation” with the Rockets. The Chinese Consulate in Houston also issued a statement saying it was “deeply shocked” by Morey’s “erroneous comments” and expressed “strong dissatisfaction.” The consulate also urged the Rockets to “correct the error and take immediate concrete measures to eliminate the adverse impact.”

As Morey and the Rockets are currently in Tokyo to take part in the NBA’s preseason games in Asia, Morey clarified his original post:

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 wasn’t my intention.

Because mitigating the impact of a huge financial backlash and maintaining the lucrative business relationship with China remains the priority, one would be foolish to believe that the NBA would react in any way other than to assume a submissive position before China :

We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.

By focusing on the financial bottom line, it’s easy for the NBA to reduce the laundry list of humanitarian abuses by the Chinese government to little more than a “cultural divide”. But in what world is the amoral detention of hundreds of thousands of Muslim Uighers and the harvesting of human organs simply a “cultural divide,” and one that can be “bridged” by playing basketball and making money? Financial wealth does not beget a functioning moral compass. Sadly, with profits being the deciding factor, financial interests and interactions with China will remain business as usual :

One of the most inflammatory developments in America’s ongoing cultural conflict has been the decision of so-called “woke capital” to use its considerable commercial power to threaten or impose economic sanctions on American states that implement public policies it doesn’t like. We’ve seen this play out many, many times — from boycotts against Indiana when it had the audacity to expand religious-liberty protections in the state, to punitive measures against North Carolina after it passed its so-called “bathroom bill,” and to threats against Georgia in opposition to its own religious-liberty bill and then its abortion restrictions. Progressive corporate America has made its position clear. It will take a moral stand, even if that stand potentially hurts the bottom line.

It’s always been hard to take that position seriously, however, when many of the same companies happily do immense amounts of business in the People’s Republic of China, a regime that systematically and ruthlessly crushes dissent. In China, the boycotts and bold stands are few and far between. Instead, there are glittering movie premieres, gleaming new factories, and intense marketing campaigns — all aimed at opening up one of the world’s most lucrative markets.

But are there limits? As we watch Hong Kong police beat pro-democracy protesters and as Twitter fills with images of police and military force massing near the border, will corporate America remember its morals? Will it use its commercial and cultural power to punish China if the government intervenes? Or will it be business as usual for America’s woke corporate giants?

While Morey waits to hear whether he will be replaced, the owner of the Houston Rockets, Tilman Fertitta, wants you to know that the team is not a political organization:

Finally, in what shouldn’t be a surprise but is, the actions of NBA are being rightfully condemned by both side of the political aisle.

(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)


28 Responses to “NBA General Manager’s Support For Hong Kong Pro-Democracy Protesters Sets Off Firestorm”

  1. Money always talks the loudest.

    Dana (05f22b)

  2. It is a tad hypocritical of the political class to condemn the NBA; after all, China is the largest holder of U.S. debt.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  3. It is all about the Benjamins.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. Waaaaaaay off-topic, but I see that Representative Ilhan Omar is filing for divorce. Does that mean they’re not brother and sister anymore?

    Chuck Bartowski (bc1c71)

  5. You have to admit, the league is acting like a league with a low ceiling with regard to expanding its fanbase domestically, this was long before the wokeness of Lebron/Golden State/Poppovich (thinking of Malice in the Palace in ’04 and the Age of Iverson), the league was teetering prior to the Larry Bird and Magic package entry in ’79.

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  6. well after their hoody and ‘hands up don’t shoot’ stunts,

    narciso (d1f714)

  7. I wonder if those woke NBA players who wore hoodies in honor of Travyon Martin and wore “I Can’t Breathe” shirts in honor of Eric Garner might rouse themselves to find a way to commemorate the 18-year-old who was shot last week by police. Probably not, if it doesn’t lead to additional shoe sales.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  8. Good thing he didn’t kneel during the national anthem, because they would be sure to fire him for … wait, what?!

    Kevin M (19357e)

  9. I feel bad for Daryl Morey, though. This could conceivably cost the Rockets tens of millions of dollars, if China follows through on its ban of Rockets broadcasts and their Chinese advertisers cancel their contracts as threatened. I would like to see him to the honorable thing and reissue his tweet, then resign his position saying that the NBA cares more about making money in repressive societies than it cares about human rights.

    JVW (54fd0b)

  10. It really is sad that American professional sports leagues, which could not exist under another system, find themselves powerless to prevent their employees from mooning America, but rush into action when other employees offend foreign dictators with comments about freedom.

    Kevin M (19357e)

  11. the word is oikophobia hatred of the familiar,

    narciso (d1f714)

  12. The “non political” NBA took the 2017 All Star game out of Charlotte because of the Bathroom law.

    But, democracy and free speech in HK is a relatively minor issue in comparison.

    Munroe (53beca)

  13. “”Like the NBA, we welcome the Chinese censors into our homes and into our hearts,” the statement reads. “We too love money more than freedom and democracy. Xi doesn’t look like Winnie the Pooh at all. Tune into our 300th episode this Wednesday at 10! Long live the great Communist Party of China. May the autumn’s sorghum harvest be bountiful. We good now China?””

    harkin (58d012)

  14. Why do NBA players, managers, and owners feel the need to express their political opinions on Social Media? Just shut up, and play Basketball. Nobody cares what the shooting guard for the Rockets thinks of the Hong Kong situation or Trump. And that’s even more true of all the Hollyweirdo’s who constantly inflict their cultural/political opinions on us.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  15. Houston Rocket star apologizing to China…from James Harden:

    “We apologize. You know, we love China. We love playing there,” Harden said. “For both of us individually, we go there once or twice a year. They show us the most important love.”

    The definition of “love” is obviously up for grabs.

    I don’t have the time or energy to do the research, but I wonder how much money James Harden has made off of the NBA and it’s relationship with China, and how much he stands to make in the future?

    Dana (05f22b)

  16. This used to not be the case. In the old days, the Players and actors kept their political opinions on the down-low. As far as I can tell, no one was running around in 1961-1962 asking Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle what they thought of the JFK’s handling of the Berlin crisis or the Missiles of October.

    rcocean (1a839e)

  17. Hey Willie D (Houston Native), you were right about Stephen A.

    urbanleftbehind (97c2c5)

  18. Ben Rhodes
    Whoever dictated this totalitarian hostage statement to the NBA was not doing them any favors. This particularly sucks coming from a league that depends on individual creativity and progressive values.
    __ _

    The Truth Monkey
    these are progressive values, Ben.
    __ _

    David Burge
    When it comes to crushing dissent, the only thing that works better than tanks is the threat of a 7% global drop in NBA merchadise sales


    harkin (58d012)

  19. Played college ball back in the early 70’s – have no fricking idea what it is they play now and have nothing in common with the political views they spew. Haven’t watched a game since Bird – Jordan.

    mg (8f83ac)

  20. Never mind the drop in NBA merch sales. Will this bollix the Trump-Kushner crime family’s peddling of green cards in China (in return for Chinese “investment” in Trump-Kushner companies)?

    nk (dbc370)

  21. “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

    If a comment like would get China upset, fu*k China. There should be solidarity behind Daryl Morey, not backpedaling. Ms. Weiss said it well:

    The billionaires who control the lucrative basketball league, however, nearly tripped over themselves in their haste to abjure Mr. Morey’s remarks. The N.B.A., like many large American businesses, is besotted by the opportunity to make money in China’s expanding market. And the league once again made clear it is willing to obey China’s rules to preserve that chance.
    It means that the N.B.A. has weighed China’s human rights abuses against China’s potential as a source of revenue, and it has decided that it can live with state policies like the detention of hundreds of thousands of Chinese Muslims in the northwestern province of Xinjiang.

    I already don’t watch the NBA because my SuperSonics were unjustifiably taken from Seattle. Now I have another reason to not spend my time supporting this league. It’s too bad. Basketball is my favorite sport. I started when I was seven, played in college, and I still gym-rat.

    Paul Montagu (88b43e)

  22. 14. rcocean (1a839e) — 10/7/2019 @ 2:07 pm

    Nobody cares what the shooting guard for the Rockets thinks of the Hong Kong situation…

    THe government of China cares. Or rather, it cares what they say

    Sammy Finkelman (0d0ca8)

  23. The billionaires who control the lucrative basketball league, however, nearly tripped over themselves in their haste to abjure Mr. Morey’s remarks.

    These people are billionaires because more money is the most important thing to them. They will always want more. They will never have enough, and no amount is too small for them to scrabble after. Don’t ever get between a rico and a penny on the sidewalk.

    nk (dbc370)

  24. The Chinese have since upped their obstinacy in response to Adam Silver’s statement. They are telling the rest of the world it’s China’s way or the highway. A stark choice will have to be made. Do you make a deal with the Devil or do you tell them to go stuff their wontons?

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  25. I think the best decision my husband ever made, following my advice I must mention (lol), is due to his position in a major corporation to never ever have a Twitter, a Facebook, an Instagram, a SnapChat, any ANY social media account. Has saved him a ton of grief that some others in his industry have faced.

    While social media is a promotional tool, I really don’t think most people care what I’m thinking about world events and those that do I tell them in person.

    Marci (405d43)

  26. (obligatory sitcom/talk show entrance applause marking the return of Colonel Haiku)

    urbanleftbehind (5eecdb)

  27. Shirley they can’t be serious

    urumqu is where the Chinese were holding jack bauer, it’s like a hockey franchise in Kolyma,

    narciso (d1f714)

  28. we’re not talking a perfunctory pro Beijing statement, this is like Brundage in 1936 berlin,

    narciso (d1f714)

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