The NBA caved to Chinese bullying after a tweet by the Houston General Manager. The NBA and the owner apologized and contemplated firing the GM for his Pro-Hong Kong Tweet. Rather than sending the message to China that Americans support Democracy.
We know the Hong Kong protesters are more aligned with traditional American values than American Leftists.
Principles and values
The student protesters in Hong Kong Grok freedom. They understand the need to stand against tyranny better than the NBA. That’s just sad really. The NBA has some pre-season games planned in China. The goal was the development of a fan base in China.
A single Pro-Democracy tweet jammed a stick in the spokes of that plan. The uproar started when GM Morey tweeted an image that read: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” It referred to the four-month-old protest movement in the Chinese territory.
That led to Houston owner Tilman Fertitta tweeting that Morey does not speak for the Rockets. That signal was a show of weakness and resolve. It invited a Chinese response. It came as an outcry including the Chinese Basketball Association. The president of the Chinese Basketball Association is former Rockets center, Yao Ming. The CBA said it was suspending its relationship with the team.
Other criticism came from Tencent. Tencent is a media partner of the NBA in China. It has a streaming deal worth $1.5 billion over the next five years. Chinese state television said they would not be showing Rockets’ games.
It isn’t immediately clear if Morey’s new tweets or the NBA’s statement that followed would salvage those relationships. Chinese athletic apparel maker Li-Ning also released a statement saying it was upset with Morey’s tweet.
The Rockets, largely because of Yao, have a large Chinese following. After Morey’s tweet, the Chinese government’s consulate office in Houston issued a statement. In the statement it “expressed strong dissatisfaction” with the Houston team.
Business is business until it crosses the line
This is Chinese state intervention in U.S. business both nationally and internationally. If China does not want American basketball it should get its wish and go without. There are choices in life. The GM supported traditional American principles and values. The owner and the league did not. The league and the owner made a calculated decision: America will not responding with the support of its own principles and values. It will not punish the team for its disloyalty.
The cowardly NBA caves to Chinese bullying after a tweet by Houston General Manager. By appeasing Chinese bullying they think they will gain more from the Chinese market than they will lose in the American market. Bye, bye NBA. You cannot cave to bullying. The GM got it right. The league and the owner have only a short term focus. They think with their wallets.