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 Soon afterwards he rescinded the tweet, and replaced it with something soft with his tail tucked between his legs.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?