The NBA, China, and Hong Kong in Bullet Points

A friend recently asked me what I thought about the NBA and Chinese kerfuffle. There was too much to text.  I figured by the time I’d get to it the story would be over; at least till next summer when NBA players make their next pilgrimage to the People’s Republic where over a billion fans await.  But a certain NBA player decided to make a public statement so it’s back to the front pages. I’m not going to offer an essay. But I will share some observations I’ve pondered of view through bullets.

  • If you are not too such what the big deal is, at the very least it would help to do a simple Wiki on the relationship between China and Hong Kong. I’ll provide a link here.
  • When Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong,’ almost 2 weeks ago, I thought it was the most ‘woke’ thing ever associated with his name. I was surprised he tweeted it, but impressed nonetheless. IMO Morey is a GM obsessed with analytics with no common basketball sense. This is why his teams always underachieves in the playoffs. On the flip side, he obviously didn’t count the cost nor was he willing to pay the cost to stand behind his statement. Soon afterwards he rescinded the tweet, and replaced it with something soft with his tail tucked between his legs. Bottom line, if you ain’t no freedom fighter, if you ain’t willing to stand on that hill with your chest out, just stay quiet. Morey is in management. He has no union to protect his job. And from the little I know about Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, he’s lucky to still have one. Side note, I’m thinking Adam Silver talked Fertitta into keeping Morey out of expedience. If he fired Morey, he would look as if he is submitting to a communist government. Besides, we already have a president for that. But if the Rockets don’t win the NBA Championship in 2020, oh he’s gone faster than you can say Crab Rangoon! Save your $$ this year D!

 

  • I had to admit I was surprised by the Chinese government’s response. Not that they were pissed. Don’t get me wrong, I knew they were serious about their communism over there. They ain’t about that free speech life and every bit of media communications is distributed by the state. I’m talking TV, radio, newspapers and so forth. Imagine if Tucker Carlson and Sean Hannity are in charge of all the news coverage of the president in the whole United States. That’s China but on steroids! What surprised me was just how incredibly butt hurt and in their feelings the government was. Though the Morey drew back a nub and Fertitta separated himself from the tweet, China went berserk! They wanted Morey executed! Or at least fired. But as I already said, Silver didn’t want the NBA, the ‘wokest of the major sports leagues’ firing dudes over tweets. Especially tweets he knew had some level of validity. So Silver rides the thin line of wanting to maintain a partnership with China, but not turn into a Chinese sycophant. That wasn’t good enough for President Xi Jinping; no sir! Instead, the he doubled down, cancelling games, removing signage from buildings and shutting down press conferences. Talk about having a hissy fit. Somebody needs to give ole boy a binky!

  • As the NBA and the remaining players in China lodged in their 5 star hotels tried to get their bearings, there appeared a big ole elephant in the room. “Hey guys, we make a lot of money off these dudes. And these dudes are really serious about their anti-human rights campaign.” Even as The Rockets trotted out James Harden and Russell Westbrook to talk about how much they love China, they appeared fragile and uncomfortably childlike. It was a terrible look. Especially considering what the Hong Kong citizens are fighting for. Let’s not forget them in all of this!

 

  • So, time went on. The players flew back home and that was supposed to be it. At least till next summer.  I thought to myself, “I know they can’t WAIT till opening night and put all of this to rest for a few months.”  But no! Somebody put a microphone in LeBron James’ mouth and he started talking crazy. “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, spiritually. Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negatives that come with that as well. … Sometimes social media is not always the proper way to go about things as well…. “When you’re misinformed or not educated about something, and I’m just talking about the tweet itself, you never know the ramifications that can happen. We can all see what that did, for our league and for all of us in America and people in China as well. Sometimes you have to think through things that may cause harm not only for yourself but for the majority of people.” WTF?

 

  • Let’s examine this: LeBron James is the same dude who told Laura Ingram he will not shut up and dribble. This is the same LeBron James that stood up for Travon Martin and wore an, “I Can’t Breathe” t-shirt for Eric Garner. LeBron has been that athlete that has made so much money and garnered so much equity that he has 0 fucks to give about Donald Sterling losing the Clippers or what many in White America think of his opinions. Well, it turns out perhaps one of the reasons he has so much money and equity is because of the money he makes from China. According to Fox Business, James holds a lifetime deal valued at $1 billion with Nike. Nike’s sales in China were up 27 percent to nearly 1.7 billion in the most recent fiscal quarter alone. This makes James’ comments seem as if he is numb regarding the hell Hong Kong citizens are catching from the Chinese government.

  • I don’t know this for sure. But I suspect like when Harden and Westbrook were thrusted into the camera to offer China a verbal hand job, making a comment about Morey’s tweet wasn’t LeBron’s call. Somebody else involved with Nike asked him to do it. But his comments put him a very bad light with people like me, who are big fans of his on and off the court but who are not into kissing his ass. The only thing Morey was uneducated about was obviously James’ bottom line. Even Muhammad Ali’s former wife, Khalilah, a fan of James’ said, “He is no Muhammad Ali. But ‘he could be’ if he changes the way he handles global political issues. As another friend of mine told me today, LeBron’s response may very well be, “Ain’t no Chinaman ever called me nigger! The ironic thing I can imagine with LeBron is that he doesn’t realize that NFL owners are looking at him saying, “You wanted us to stand up for Kaepernick? Welcome to our worlds!  Now your money is talking and you sound like Thomas telling Malcolm X “Get your hands out my pocket!”

  • Still the best thing LeBron could have done is to have said nothing! And the NBA is not off the hook either. I’m sure that Chinese bread is wonderful. But as a business you knew what you were into in the first place. Hell if it wasn’t Morey some player may have tweeted or said something eventually. Maybe the league should have thought it through as to how it would handle the consequences. Either way, now the league is caught in a game of chicken and face saving because the Chinese want more than what the NBA is giving as Morey’s head is not on a stake. Furthermore, Silver defended Morey’s right to free speech; again something the Chinese government don’t know nothing about. Stay tuned. None of this is simple. But it damn sure ain’t that complicated either from an American perspective. The issue at the end of the day is, “How much do you want that money and what are you willing to do to keep it!”  I wonder what Stephon Marbury thinks about all of this?
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Murder, Justice, and Biblical Psychobabble

The murder of Botham Jean and the subsequent trial and conviction of Amber Guyger definitely has its share of conflicting narratives. First there was the murder itself. Then there was the cover up. Then there was the cover up of the cover up.

So many of my family and friends held our breaths trying to determine how the trial would turn out. In the words of Snoop Dogg, “Murder was the case,” was an easy call. What else would you call walking into a man’s apartment and shooting him dead while he was chilling in his drawers minding his own business? We know that common sense ain’t always common. Especially when it comes to Black people and the police.

I’m in an ongoing text group with people from the East to the West Coast. Two in particular live in Dallas. Minutes after the verdict, the Dallas guys quickly transitioned to the sentencing. The immediate suspicion was the amount of years Guyger received would be way closer to the minimum 5 year range than the maximum 99 years within the sentencing guidelines. It matched my suspicions after the September 11 attacks. When the second plane hit World Trade Center, I calmly got up from my office in St. Louis, went to my car and drove to the gas station to fill up. Sure our nation was under a terrorist attack. Still, I knew many would turn this attack into a money making opportunity. Sure enough, by the time I got off work many stations had gone from an average of $1.23 per gallon to upwards of $5.00.  America had trained me well. These men obviously received the same training. We understand the fact that most of the time cops get away with doing dirt to Black folk.

When the sentence of 10 years was revealed, the thoughts I and many of my brethren felt was familiar. “Dammit! One step forward two steps backwards!” We got the right verdict, but the jury (who were encouraged they could focus on a lighter sentence) made it so Officer Guyger received more compassion than her victim.

Immediately the media focused on the love showered upon Guyger by the brother of Botham Jean, Brandt, as well as the judge in the case Tammy Kemp. Photos of Jean and Kemp embracing a sobbing Guyger became a weird symbol of grace and mercy for a cold blooded murder in the spaces of what was supposed to be a righteous judgment. As those photos circulated the internet, reactions were strong. Many are bewildered at how a young man who lost his brother in a brutal and unjust shooting can ask to hug the woman who is responsible for taking his life. These questions deserve answers.

The reason is simple. Christianity; specifically black people’s version of Christianity. The following statements are going to seem sweeping. Those that understand nuance understand the context of sweeping terms when something is generally true without taking into account every single individual sample. Historically in America Christianity has had a dual sense of purpose and benefits. For White folk, ever since slavery, God, Jesus, the bible are all tools and symbols based in reinforcing their inherent belief that they are god’s chosen people on the earth. For Black folk, God, Jesus, the bible are tools symbolic of helping to survive being second class citizens on earth, waiting to receive the true citizenship and value they deserve in heaven. This was taught from the beginning on American soil. How else could one justify slavery and all the horrors that came with it in the first place? Slavery wasn’t just about forced labor, bloody violence, rape, splitting up of families, it was about a system of mental degradation and oppression. One wonders how you can have both the slave and enslaver share the same religion at the same time. The only way that’s possible is to emphasize a different form of core teachings as it relates to earthly vs. heavenly life. White folks taught Blacks, ‘Slaves obey your masters.’ They taught Blacks to accept; no EMBRACE their subservient place and endure whatever they had to endure. After all, the more meek, humble and docile you are, the better chance god will reward and let you into heaven where there would be no more slavery or violence forced upon you.  White folks never had to take on that perspective. They believed in receiving their benefits right here on earth as they lived. For enslavers, Jesus preserved the order. For slaves, Jesus would reward them in heaven for submissive and loving behavior towards the enslaver on earth. Black Christians spend their lives trying to get to heaven. White folk demand earth as its birthright. Heaven is a forgone conclusion.

In a way, Black folks embrace certain moral core principles of Christianity similar to how we believe in the moral core principles of The Constitution. It appears we believe in the ideas more than the ones who brought it and tout it the most. But those that gave us the constitution and to a large degree the bible never intended for Black folk to receive any of the benefits in the first place.

One key principle that black Christians embrace is that of forgiveness. We take seriously the principle that God will not forgive us unless we forgive others. As Brandt Jean took the stand to talk about how the murder of his brother affected him, he kept talking about how he hoped Guyger would receive Jesus. This is key for him because even as he attempts to grieve and process the loss of his loved one, he is told constantly to depend on his faith in god. While grappling with his pain, grief and anger, his faith tells him that god isn’t pleased with his anger. He must forgo it and give it to god. As a result there is a constant pressure or being pressed on two sides of harsh reality. On one side it’s watching this woman and her backers lie, cheat, and attempt to do everything in their power to escape justice. On the other, it’s Jesus looking down on him demanding he show compassion and mercy for the sake of his own soul. This isn’t unusual at all. When Dylan Roof took 9 Black lives at Mother Emmanuel Church, plenty of surviving members went out of their way to express forgiveness in tears and wailing to a man who detested the sight of them.  To be honest, I put myself in Brandt’s shoes. I was raised in the same kinds of churches he was. When I was his age I may have done the same thing.

Now contrast this to White people’s experiences, again they’re version of Jesus isn’t the same. So if the tables were turned, instead of touting grace and forgiveness looking to absolve the perpetrator of as much internal guilt as possible, they would simply lean in towards the calls of justice. “You reap what you sow. We have to be tough on crime and punish criminals harshly as a way to preserve order in society. The criminal must take personal responsibility for his actions. Where were his parents? Why are they as a people so violent? They must pay for what they’ve done.” This is the difference in the outlooks. Both sides were raised Christian. But Christianity and its emphasis in this area are polar opposites. Whites were never told to forgive Blacks for anything.

There are two basic camps among Black folk. One says, “I’m tired of Black folk doing all the damn forgiving toward Whites for the deadly shit they do. The other says, “You can’t tell Brandt Jean how to grieve. If he wants to hug his brother’s killer, then so be it.” I think the most important thing is to understand what is behind his motives and how he got there. The fact is, forgiveness is a personal decision and journey. Unfortunately, many of us feel we must display it publicly in order for it to be legitimate. I also believe we don’t really understand what forgiveness is and what it isn’t. In other words, it’s one thing to release someone from causing you pain and turning your grief into darkness. There are plenty of people I’ve had to forgive. But for some, the acts were so devious and damaging there is no way in hell we are going to be hugging it out. That is not the same as wishing harm on the person or seeking to ruin their lives. Forgiveness in this case is no less valuable or sound than Jean’s. In fact, it’s probably more sustainable.

Again, there was a time in my life I may have reacted the same way as Brandt. I grew up with his brand of faith. Now if someone took away my only sister, at worst the hounds of hell will be unleashed if I have anything to do with it. At the very least, I’m going to be like them White folks and be on the side of justice. But I digress.

What I cannot justify, however, is Judge Tammy Kemp’s behavior in also hugging the murderer in her courtroom. There is something to be said that the Fraternal Order of Police in Dallas support her. Take that how you like it. But it’s interesting that she chose to give Guyger a bible. In most cases if someone is about to do time, you give them a bible for comfort in a time of need. In this case, Guyger already received just about everything she needed. A dramatically short sentence, the forgiveness of the people she hurt in public, and oh this… she’s expected to appeal so who knows maybe the murder conviction is overturned altogether. Hell, according to the established rules of the game, she should have given the bible to Brandt.