The National Basketball Association’s online store blocked people from being able to order customizable jerseys that featured “FreeHongKong” as the name on the back of the Jersey.
Sports commentator Clay Travis posted a video to Twitter that showed the NBA blocking the jersey when the name entered was “FreeHongKong” but not when the name was “FreeHongKonu” thus showing that it had nothing to do with the number of characters on the jersey.
The Daily Wire received the same message when attempting to purchase a jersey that stated “FreeHongKong.” The message that the NBA store auto-populates states, “We are unable to customize this item with the text you have entered. Please try a different entry.”
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) July 13, 2020
Sen. Rick Scott responded to the tweet, writing, “More evidence of the @NBA’s shameful cowardice and unwillingness to stand up for human rights in China. This is mind-boggling. The NBA and its players have chosen profits over human rights. They’re siding with Xi and the CCP over those fighting for their freedom.”
More evidence of the @NBA’s shameful cowardice and unwillingness to stand up for human rights in China. This is mind-boggling.
The NBA and its players have chosen profits over human rights. They’re siding with Xi and the CCP over those fighting for their freedom. https://t.co/H0HSQRIqSW
— Rick Scott (@ScottforFlorida) July 13, 2020
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) tweeted: “Of course – @NBA Incorporated doesn’t dare offend the paymasters in #Beijing!”
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 13, 2020
Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) tweeted: “The NBA makes BILLIONS of dollars in #China. No wonder it’s afraid to stand up to the #CCP and fight for the millions of people being persecuted in #HongKong right now — because it’s deep in the CCP’s pocketbook. The NBA should side with freedom, not oppression! #FreeHongKong”
The NBA makes BILLIONS of dollars in #China.
— Michael Waltz (@michaelgwaltz) July 13, 2020
The Washington Free Beacon tested numerous different phrases and found that the NBA allegedly allowed these phrases to be printed on their jerseys:
- F—K HONG KONG
- DEFUND POLICE
- ABOLISH COPS
- BEWARE OF JEWS
- SNEAKY JEWS
- BAN GYPSIES
- XI FOR LIFE
- CANCEL ISRAEL
- NINE 11 HOAX
- END TAIWAN
- ENSLAVE TIBET
- TRUMP HAS AIDS
- PENCE IS GAY
- UYGHURS LIE
The Daily Wire was able to verify the majority of those with “F**kHongKong” being the only phrase that did not work when attempted which might be an indicator that the NBA intervened after seeing reports surface online. The NBA store also allegedly allowed other heinous statements to be printed on their jerseys, including statements advocating for violence against Jews and police officers.
Daily Caller reporter David Hookstead called the NBA store and allegedly confirmed with an employee that he could not get a jersey that stated “FreeHongKong” but could get a jersey that stated “KillCops.”
Here is audio of the NBA store telling me I can't buy a FreeHongKong jersey, but I can buy a KillCops jersey.
Eventually, once they realized what was happening, they claimed they couldn't sell me anything because of high call volume and system error. pic.twitter.com/S9bdj9xgXU
— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) July 13, 2020
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver reportedly said last year that he was “proud” of “the sentiment” that people have who view the NBA as “the wokest professional sports league” and said that “political speech” from the players is protected by the league.
New York Times columnist Bari Weiss wrote the following about the NBA last year:
Absolutely, that is, unless the subject of that political speech is the Chinese Communist Party, which presents perhaps the greatest strategic threat to our freedoms of any regime in the world. On that subject, Mr. Silver and the league he runs are shamefully silent.
A stunning instance of N.B.A. acquiescence to Beijing began on Friday evening when Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, put out a tweet expressing support for Hong Kong’s democracy movement: “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” You might assume that the wokest professional sports league — this is a business, after all, that pulled its all-star game out of Charlotte, N.C., in 2017 because of that state’s anti-transgender bathroom bill — would see human rights, representative democracy and freedom of conscience as core virtues. But you would be wrong.
The Morey tweet, though promptly deleted, went viral in China, where outrage from sponsors and fans was fast and furious. But the swiftness with which the N.B.A. bent its knee to Chinese sensitivities was truly breathtaking for a league that prides itself on a “sense of an obligation, social responsibility, a desire to speak up directly about issues that are important,” as Mr. Silver has boasted. Perhaps the fact as many as 500 million Chinese watched at least one N.B.A. game last season and the N.B.A.’s business operations there are valued at more than $4 billion had something to do with it.
NBA star LeBron James cowered to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) after the incident, suggesting that those with pro-Hong Kong views were not “educated” and saying that there were “negatives” that come with having freedom of speech.
“We all talk about this freedom of speech, yes, we all do have freedom of speech but at times there are ramifications for the negative that can happen when you’re not thinking about others and you’re only thinking about yourself,” James said. “I don’t want to get into a … feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only financially, but physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
“So, just be careful what we tweet and say and what we do even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech there can be a lot of negatives that comes with that too,” James concluded.
LeBron James rips Daryl Morey, says Morey was uneducated. Says, “We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that too.” Really. pic.twitter.com/ZTw6a3FZ5n
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) October 15, 2019