You have to screw up awfully badly in America 2019 to forge a coalition of critics that includes Ted Cruz, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton, Ron Wyden, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, especially at a moment when Democrats and Republicans are at each other’s throats over impeachment. Congrats to the NBA for pulling it off with their fulsome Chinese bootlicking.
I encourage you to read the full letter, which is righteous. And just two pages long.
Their core argument, repeated often here and elsewhere over the past three days, is that American citizens can’t be subjected to de facto Chinese censorship at work because the almighty dollar demands it. But there are other arguments:
They list four demands, the most notable of which is for the NBA to pull out of China until the Chinese government stops punishing the league for refusing to sanction Daryl Morey. Adam Silver obviously doesn’t want to do that for fear of deepening the dispute. Right now, as far as I know, China has limited its actions against the NBA to preseason games — the Rockets have been banned from the airwaves, NBA charitable events have been canceled, and the exhibition games this week between the Lakers and Nets look like they’ll end up being scrapped. Silver may be thinking that once China has proven its point, it’ll relent and allow coverage of the start of the regular season in the belief that the league and its personnel will have learned their lesson. They’ll never again mention Hong Kong.
Which, I bet, is correct. Steph Curry didn’t get within a country mile of saying something controversial when he was asked about this today.
Steph Curry: “This situation, there’s a huge weight and gravity to it. There’s going to need to be some things to be sorted out. But I just don’t know enough about Chinese history and how that’s influenced modern society…This is not going away. So we’ll come back to it.” pic.twitter.com/6h6ZGWHQtq
— Anthony Slater (@anthonyVslater) October 9, 2019
Like his coach, he just doesn’t know enough to comment about complicated issues like whether people should be sent to concentration camps because of their religion, on the one hand, or, on the other hand, whether they should not. The “gravity” and complexity of certain domestic issues hasn’t deterred Curry from commenting on those, either. But go figure that he’s stumped about China.
Stephen “redsteeze” Miller dug this up out of Steph’s Twitter feed:
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) September 2, 2015
No one’s going to say a word about Hong Kong going forward. Not him, not LeBron, not Zion, not “outspoken” frauds like Kerr and Gregg Popovich, certainly not Silver. China will win. The Sasse letter is nice and all but no one at the NBA wants to be the guy who closed off a billion-dollar market for all their friends because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut despite knowing the consequences. At best, the letter might convince China to end its boycott of the NBA a bit earlier than expected now that the issue has attracted the attention of the U.S. Congress. Amid a trade war with Trump, Beijing needs to be careful about how much it wants to antagonize Americans for other reasons and deepen hostility between the two countries. If nothing else, trying to strongarm the NBA might irritate American fans to the point that they’re more willing to support an extended tariff campaign against China. Maybe this is the point where China tells Silver, “Fine, let’s drop it, just stay out of our politics.” They’ll comply!
But here’s your consolation prize: Every time one of these holier-than-thou A-holes opens his mouth about domestic politics going forward, you get to remind him that he wouldn’t say a word if his bottom line was at stake. We know it for a fact now. We have the receipts, thanks to Daryl Morey.
Meanwhile, hopefully this will become a recurring feature at NBA games this year. We can’t make Kerr and Curry pretend to care, but we can at least keep giving the media reason to ask them uncomfortable questions:
Protesters outside of the Washington Wizards preseason game against the Guangzhou Long-Lions. Passing out free shirts reading “Free Hong Kong.” pic.twitter.com/X5xOUZeWqf
— Halloween Name Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) October 9, 2019
— Jon Schweppe (@JonSchweppe) October 9, 2019
Trump finally commented on the NBA too today, by the way. His point about hypocrisy by the likes of Kerr and Popovich is right on, and is echoed in Sasse’s letter. But, unlike in the letter, when he’s offered the chance to rip China for bullying the NBA over Morey’s right to free speech, he passes. That’s between the league and China, he says. I wonder why.
President Trump criticizes Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich — both vocal critics of Trump — when asked about China putting pressure on the NBA: "They talk badly about the United States, but when it talks about China, they don't want to say anything bad" https://t.co/rR2dKOelYD pic.twitter.com/am9hMQcGG3
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) October 9, 2019