Photo courtesy by Wikimedia Commons | An image of the protests in Hong Kong in 2019
The National Basketball Association (NBA) has been receiving backlash in recent weeks, all starting with a single Twitter post.
General manager Daryl Morey of the Houston Rockets gave his views on the Hong Kong protests against the People’s Republic of China, posting in support of the protesters in Hong Kong. The NBA disapproved of Morey, who later removed the tweet and apologized for his post, saying that he did not mean to “cause any offense to Rockets fans and friends of [his] in China.”
Afterward, the NBA officially apology in condemnation of Morey’s actions, saying, “We are extremely disappointed in the inappropriate remarks of Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey. He has undoubtedly severely hurt the feelings of Chinese fans.”
A lot of people on the Internet are upset about the deletion of the tweet, responding with accusations of censorship within the NBA to save their ties with China.
The corporate benefits between the NBA and China are a significant factor in why the NBA is trying to stop affiliates from speaking out against the Chinese government. According to the Sports Business Journal, the league has an estimated value of $5 billion in China. For this reason, many people argue that the NBA prioritizes its monetary assets over the freedom of speech for its associates.
In an attempt to prevent that value from decreasing, the NBA has taken measures to keep their colleagues from speaking about the protests.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver defended the NBA as well as Morey at an exhibition match in Tokyo, Japan in October. “The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, and Daryl Morey enjoyed that right as one of our employees,” Silver said. “I also understand that there are consequences from that exercise of his freedom of speech. We will have to live with those consequences. It’s my hope that our Chinese fans and our partners in China will see those remarks in the context of a three-decade relationship.”
However, Silver’s statements did not correlate with events occurring just a few days after the game in Tokyo. During a postgame conference with NBA players Russell Westbrook and James Harden, a media officer of the Houston Rockets prevented CNN news reporter Christina Macfarlane from asking a question relating to the league’s situation with China.
As protests in Hong Kong continue, other players and affiliates in the NBA have spoken about the issue. This includes Los Angeles Lakers member LeBron James, who has received criticism for his input.
The general manager of the Phoenix Suns James Jones has not responded to The Roundup’s request for comment.