If you’ve been following the news this week, you’re probably aware of the furious kowtowing the National Basketball Association has been doing in order to avoid displeasing the Chinese Communist Party any more than it already has.
The Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, put up a since-deleted tweeted in support of Hongkongers who have been protesting to preserve whatever remaining democracy they still enjoy.
With that, China became…upset. Just as with Taiwan, the Chinese government doesn’t brook any support for those who oppose their iron-fisted rule. And given the fluid situation in the former British colony, an NBA executive expressing solidarity with Hong Kong’s demonstrators simply could not be tolerated.
Why does anyone care? It seems the Chinese are big fans of NBA basketball and the league has an extensive deal with the ChiComs to broadcast the league’s games there.
After Morey’s tweet, Chinese TV cancelled broadcasts of the league’s pre-season games and Houston Rockets merchandise has been pulled from stores across the Middle Kingdom. So angering the Chinese Communist Party could cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars.
Morey, of course, was made to atone by deleting the offending tweet and apologizing profusely for his ill-considered support of democratic principles.
1/ 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.
— Daryl Morey (@dmorey) October 7, 2019
There’s apparently no truth to the rumor that NBA commissioner Adam Silver stood over Morey with a gun to his head making sure Morey’s apology was sufficiently sincere.
The whole kerfuffle came at an awkward time for the league as some of the NBA’s premier teams were scheduled to play exhibition games in Shanghai this week. Yesterday when a CNN reporter tried to ask two Rockets players about the incident, she was challenged by NBA PR people who didn’t like the question.
Journalist gets quickly shut down when she asked James Harden, Russell Westbrook if they would refrain from speaking out on politics/social justice after China debacle… pic.twitter.com/VkXSWo0N0s
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) October 10, 2019
One of the league’s most prominent political pontificators, Golden State Warriors Coach Steve Kerr, has been a frequent critic of the current administration and an advocate for gun control. At first, he adopted the
party league line regarding the China controversy and clammed up.
But it was only a matter of time. Kerr was asked yesterday if he’d ever been asked about the human right situation in China during his past trips to the county. Kerr claimed that he hadn’t. But he took the opportunity to draw a moral equivalence between the oppressive Chinese political system — a communist dictatorship that maintains concentration camps for political dissidents and suspect minority groups — and the constant oppression he perceives here in the US of A.
Steve Kerr on if he’s ever been asked about human rights during his previous trips to China:
“No. Nor has (America’s) record of human rights abuses come up either… People in China didn’t ask me about, you know, people owning AR-15s and mowing each other down in a mall.” pic.twitter.com/56mNC7LmID
— Sam Hustis (@SamHustis) October 11, 2019
Yes, mass shootings (most of which are accomplished with handguns, by the way) are truly horrific. As are any deaths involving firearms. But they’re not a tool used to exert government control over a subjugated population and maintain its grip on power.
Kerr’s equating atrocities such as the 45 million murdered under Mao or — more recently — the murderous crackdown at Tiananmen Square (10,000 dead there) and is both politically obtuse and morally repugnant.
But don’t worry. Kerr won’t face any blowback for what he said from the NBA’s higher-ups over his latest tendentious moralizing. After all, not only do Silver et. al likely agree with him, but claiming that the the abuses in China are no worse than what happens in the United States won’t cost the league a dime. So it’s all good.