It’s not often a bipartisan coalition forms naturally around an issue, but the NBA’s unqualified capitulation to Chinese Communists has managed to bring together perhaps the most mis-matched group of legislators in a decade.
In this case, that shocking bi-partisan team involves Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Tom Cotton (R-AK), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) — not exactly a group that enjoys a robust friendship.
In a two-page letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the group excoriates the league’s decision to issue an unqualified apology to Chinese officials after Houston Rockets manager, Daryl Morey, sent a single public Tweet expressing support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
Over the weekend, both the NBA and Morey groveled at the feet of the Chinese Communists in order to save a business relationship between the league and the global superpower, and followed up its public capitulation with a series of bizarre antics, censoring fans who brought signs, wore tee shirts, or started chants supporting the Hong Kong demonstrators opposing Chinese incursion.
The group pulled no punches.
“It is outrageous that the Chinese Communist Party is using its economic power to suppress the speech of American inside the United States. It is also outrageous that the NBA has caved to Chinese government demands for contrition,” the group writes.
“Hundreds of millions of people within China will read your statements as an admission that their government’s propaganda is correct; millions of people in Hong Kong will be dispirited,” they continue. “That you have more potential fans in China than in Hong Kong is no excuse for being over backwards to express ‘sensitivity’ only to one side.”
The letter goes on to suggest that the NBA is hypocritical for its stance on Morey’s statements, since it has openly encouraged its players to express controversial opinions before — though largely on domestic issues, not foreign ones. Cracking down here, the group says, is an attack on “fundamental American values.”
When the league inked its deals with China, the group argues, they should have anticipated that some day China might be offended by something said by a player or administrator in the league, and pledged to defend their own, even if it meant losing cash in the process. Instead, the NBA has paved the way for the Chinese to use economic means to censor Americans’ protected speech.
The Members of Congress make four demands on the NBA: that the NBA will reiterate its commitment to being “hands off” when it comes to the political beliefs of its players and administrators, that the NBA will cease doing business with the Chinese until the Chinese drop their boycott of NBA activities, that the NBA will re-evaluate its operations in China (including operating its training facility for Chinese players in Xianjiang, just a stone’s throw from where China is operating huge concentration camps for ethnic Chinese Muslims), and “clarify” that players and administrators are allowed to speak out on human rights abuses at home and abroad.
The NBA has yet to respond, probably because its still figuring out what to do about its lost Chinese connection. So far, China has dropped its commitment to host a handful of planned pre-season exhibition NBA games and says it will end NBA broadcasts in-country.
NBA players like Steph Curry, who refused to speak on the subject during an interview yesterday, also have multi-million dollar sponsorship contracts with corporations like Nike and Reebok, who sell billions of dollars worth of goods inside China and don’t want their own economic interests harmed.