NBA GM’s Tweet Threatens NBA’s Relationship with China

Aaron Pellican

One of the most prominent and incredible stories in all of the world right now is the fight for freedom and democracy by the citizens of Hong Kong against the Chinese government. Protests have erupted in Hong Kong with the total number of participants in these protests reaching the hundreds of thousands. 

The protests are aimed at the Chinese government after a bill was proposed which would allow the extradition of Hong Kong citizens to mainland China. 

While the Chinese government claims it is simply trying to bring justice to suspecting criminals of crimes, which would be punishable by seven or more years in prison, those opposing the bill claim the bill comes from a perspective which views Hong Kong as a “criminal refugee,” a view which is met with incredible amounts of criticism. 

This bill would be the end of the “one country, two systems” agreement which had been in place between China and Hong Kong. 

Critics of the bill also fear that it will be used to extradite political opponents and others to China, where their legal protections cannot be guaranteed. This bill is simply the straw that broke the camel’s back as tensions between China and Hong Kong had been rising for some time now. 

No matter which side’s argument holds more truth, the protests that are taking place only seem to be getting more and more dangerous as the days pass. Lives are being put at risk as well as the health and well-being of innocent citizens, government officials, and politicians.  These protests continue to feel like acts of war against the Chinese government.  

This situation is extremely serious and subsequently so, very sensitive as well.  The sensitivity of the subject became very apparent when an NBA executive and Houston Rockets GM, Daryl Morey, tweeted out his support to the Hong Kong protesters. 

Morey tweeted an image which read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” This was immediately met with amazing amounts of backlash as the NBA and China are partners in business. China is one of, if not, the biggest endorser of NBA basketball, its athletes, and the sport in general.

In fact, the NBA and ‘Tencent,” a Chinese streaming service, had just agreed to a $1.5 billion deal which spanned across the next five years. 

Tencent was one of the first to criticize Morey’s tweet and immediately made a statement saying they would no longer stream Houston Rockets games along with other Chinese television stations who have said the same thing. 

Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Russell Westbrook, who are both absolute superstars in China, both voiced their sympathy for the situation and even went as far as to apologize for their own General Manager’s comments. 

The statement did more than just impact the Houston Rockets however, as the NBA has come under a lot of heat as well for the statement and for their continual support of China and its government’s actions. Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver, made a public statement in which he adamantly claimed the NBA and China would remain partners and, yet again, voiced his support for China and its government. 

This stance by the NBA is clearly a business move they simply must take in order to protect an extremely large part of their international profit and maintain healthy relationships with China.  

It is clear that the NBA, its executives, owners, GM’s, and players are being extremely careful with this topic as it seems like many are just not informed enough to make a comment. This thought should have ran through Daryl Morey’s head before he sent out that tweet. 

But it is rather disappointing the stance the NBA in totality is taking considering that athletes in the United States have been very vocal in recent years in regards to human rights as well as political issues within our own nation. 

Morals and ethics have been a center of attention for these athletes and the leagues they represent, yet, these very morals and ethics have been de-prioritized for the sake of income in this case. While it is understandable, it has unleashed a whole new war against the league that it simply just never saw coming.