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Houston, We Have a Problem

Brett Davis

Posted on October 9, 2019 17:18

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Flagrant foul: Folding to China’s full-court press, the former league of Yao Ming is now only about the cha-ching.

Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey has caused something of an international incident with the above tweet – which has since been deleted – in support of pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and in the process revealed something really ugly about the National Basketball Association.

Rather than unequivocally standing by one of their own making what should be a noncontroversial statement siding with freedom fighters against the tyrannical communist Chinese government, the NBA missed an easy layup, instead releasing a word salad of a statement slapping down Morey, apparently in a bid to make amends with their business partners in China.

“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” the brick of a statement read.  “While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals' educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”



What’s regrettable is the NBA’s tepid response to this situation, especially considering the organization’s preening morality when it comes to other issues. This is the same league that canceled its 2017 All-Star Game in North Carolina because the state had a “human rights abusing” transgender bathroom statute. The Tar Heel State’s latrine laws are apparently more of a concern than China, one of the world’s most oppressive nations with a human rights record to match.

To a certain degree, it’s understandable that the NBA powers-that-be are upset at the fallout from Morey’s tweet. After all, the Chinese Basketball Association has officially cut ties with the Houston Rockets, the most popular NBA team in China, because Yao Ming, the seven-foot-six-inch star, played eight seasons with the team before retiring in 2011.

Furthermore, the controversy could jeopardize the league’s plans to go international. China’s market makes up at least 10 percent of the NBA’s current revenue, according to David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute. The Chinese market is expected to contribute even more over the next decade, perhaps reaching 20 percent of the league’s revenue by 2030.

What’s not so understandable is the clumsy and ham-fisted way in which the NBA responded, which gives the distinct impression the league is kowtowing to China in the name of the almighty dollar. It’s bad PR, to say the least, to have the NBA seen as siding with human rights abusers in China.

The NBA’s effort to expand into foreign markets is a slam dunk from a business standpoint; but not bending the knee to China. For what does it profit the NBA to gain access to the Chinese market and lose its soul?

Brett Davis

Posted on October 9, 2019 17:18

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Source: FOX Sports

NBA China and Tencent announced the launch of the first NBA League Pass in China.

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