The Ignorance of the NBA’s Response to China

The NBA and China. It’s all everyone is talking about in the sports world as recent comments by Rockets’ General Manager, Daryl Morey, sparked a media circus as he tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters. 

LeBron James currently serves as the face of the NBA, both making headlines with his contributions on and off the court. James founded UNINTERRUPTED – a platform for athlete empowerment – and has often been outspoken when it comes to modern socio-political issues. 

However, when posed to lend insight on Morey’s tweet and the China-NBA relationship, LeBron missed the mark:”I felt like with this particular situation, it was something that not only was I not informed enough about, I just felt like it was something that not only myself and my teammates or our organization had enough information to even talk about it at that point in time, and we still feel the same way.”

Since those comments, LeBron has been ripped apart for his apparent willingness to cater to Chinese interests. Nonetheless, his statement reflects the greater behavior of the NBA as a whole. Outspoken figures such as Greg Popovich and Steve Kerr have all kept a safe distance from the issue. Frankly, it appears that not a single figure in the NBA has demonstrated any vocality against China.

The progessive and socially-woke nature of the NBA stops when its business interests are in jeopardy. China is worth more than $4 billion to the NBA and its safe to say that that number was likely to only grow with the international rise of popularity for basketball.

$4 billion is no small figure to the NBA, but there must be a line between economic weight and ethical value. LeBron and the rest of the NBA and promoting a common theme of blissful ignorance, blatantly ignoring the clear facts and reports of the extensive human rights violations by the Chinese government. 

China has roughly one million Muslim Uighurs detained in concentration camp-esque centers. It’s inexcusable and highlights the authoritative and oppressive nature of the Chinese Government. 

All of which makes LeBron and the rest of the NBA’s comments so disturbing as it points to a concerning trend of Chinese influence over American sphere. Not only are we catering our brands and business to Chinese ideals and censorship, but altering our discourse and vocality over significant socio-political issues. 

There isn’t any missing info or context needed to know that what is happening in China is horrible. So when LeBron and all the other NBA voices say there isn’t “enough information to even talk about it,” they’re either lying to our faces or sympathizers of Chinese oppression. Either of which follows suit to the perpetuating problem of ethical ideals being sacrificed for foreign business value. 

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