NBA manager supports Hong Kong

Viral tweet angers Chinese government

Written By Mason Strawn, For The Globe

What’s more important: the people’s choice or the bottom line? Freedom or money? A pro-democracy tweet or a communist country’s demand? That’s the question being asked to the NBA right now. Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ General Manager, is the one to blame; well, blame isn’t really the word to use. More like the one who shined light on a matter that no one else has really done, since the NBA and China have gotten along so well.

On Friday, Oct. 4, while the Rockets were in China for their preseason practices and games, Morey published a tweet of a picture stating, “Fight for Freedom, stand with Hong Kong” after the recent reports of protestors fighting against China’s communist government. China has tried to silence the protestors by means of beating, jailing and reports of even killing protestors in a way of stopping the widespread riots. The protests are becoming such a problem that the entire country of China is considering banning any form of masks so that they can identify protestors and arrest them later. It’s practically today’s version of Tiananmen’s square, but on a larger, more drawn out scale.

After his tweet went viral, the Chinese government was furious. Almost immediately after the tweet grew, China declared that they would be cancelling any games with the NBA that involved any of their national teams, and called for the shutdown of any event or practicing involving the NBA in the country. The message was brutal and clear: attack our government, and you will lose one of your biggest markets. Now the NBA isn’t the only one to be forced to back down to China; popular gaming company, Blizzard, recently banned its top Esports participants after they stood with the Hong Kong protestors, as one of Blizzard’s biggest player groups are Chinese teens and young adults. Multiple other companies, including the likes of Apple and Vans, have also been pressured into not supporting the protestors or anyone that is allied with them in any sort of way.

The NBA and China have a long history. From big names like Jeremy Lin and Yao Ming, to basketball being one of the nation’s biggest and most beloved sports, the NBA is a huge deal in one of the biggest countries in the world. Even college teams are known to play there, like our very own Point Park Men’s Basketball team, practicing and competing in a tournament hosted in the powerful country. This means if the NBA lost China, they would lose a huge amount of income, players and fans alike; all due to a tweet. Morey would later go on to delete the tweet, and even stated an apology to the country, but it was too late. China made itself very clear: punish the Rockets’ GM, or else.

The NBA recently released a report that pretty much goes as follows: “In our league we have freedom of speech so we can’t punish the Rocket’s GM, but shame on him anyway for supporting a group of pro-democrats in a communist country that is abusing them.” I am infuriated as I type this reading over a report that practically states that we must do what China says, which is wrong because we’re going to lose a boat load of money because they’ll ban us for not obeying them. It’s like having that one friend that has dirt on you and you must do what they say or else your life will be ruined because of how embarrassing it is. It’s honestly sick.

As of Oct. 10, the NBA still had some of its teams’ practices in the Asian country, but has also lost major brands such as Li-Ang and ANTA; two major shoe companies that support known athletes such as Klay Thompson, Gordon Hayward, Rajon Rondo and soon to be hall of famer Dwyane Wade. At this rate, everyone that is told to do something by China will just roll over and do exactly what they’re told. That can’t be allowed, no matter how many citizens and power the country has. The US and other foreign companies and groups need to stop looking at their bottom line, stare China right in the face, and say, “no” when pressured by the communist country, plain and simple.