The NBA is facing a new scandal stemming from its ties to communist China after a new ESPN report revealed that the league opened up youth training camps in China, including a camp in a Chinese state that operates concentration camps, where allegedly kids repeatedly endured physical abuse at the hands of officials.
“American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program,” ESPN reported. “One former league employee who worked in China wondered how the NBA, which has been so progressive on issues around Black Lives Matter and moved the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, over a law requiring transgender people to use bathrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates, could operate a training camp amid a Chinese government crackdown that also targeted NBA employees.”
Sources who spoke to ESPN said that coaches at the academies wondered if Silver, who just donated the maximum amount possible to the Biden campaign, knew about the alleged child abuse.
One of the academies that was opened by the NBA was in Xinjiang, where the Chinese Communist Party allegedly has millions of people locked up in concentration camps. ESPN says that it obtained an email that the NBA sent to employees that instructed employees not to tell ESPN that they were being instructed to answer questions about the league’s new China scandal.
A former league employee told ESPN that working in Xinjiang was like “World War II Germany,” while another said that it was “a sweat camp for athletes.” A former coach said, “we were basically working for the Chinese government.” Multiple coaches quit because of the abuse that they were seeing happen to the young players.
NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum, who oversees international operations, claimed that the league received a few complaints about the abuse and claimed that the incidents were never reported to top league officials.
Numerous officials who worked for the NBA in China said that the level of abuse was “much more prevalent” than what Tatum had claimed.
One coach said that a Chinese coach threw a ball at a young player’s face from point-blank range and then “kick[ed] him in the gut.”
“Imagine you have a kid who’s 13, 14 years old, and you’ve got a grown coach who is 40 years old hitting your kid,” the coach said. “We’re part of that. The NBA is part of that.”
In an attempt to deflect responsibility for the alleged child abuse, Tatum claimed, “We weren’t responsible for the local coaches, we didn’t have the authority. We don’t have oversight of the local coaches, of the academic programs or the living conditions.”
ESPN said that some of the league’s problems stemmed from their decision to “embed the academies” in facilities that were controlled by the Chinese Communist Party.
Activists involved in fighting against China’s concentration camps told ESPN that the NBA’s presence in Xinjiang was legitimizing “crimes against humanity.”
The NBA claims that they left Xinjiang a year ago, but one coach told ESPN that wasn’t exactly accurate because the NBA was “still trying to get people to go out there.”
“It didn’t end because [the NBA] said, ‘We’re gonna end this,'” the coach said.