The Rockets and the NBA could have stood up for Morey, for decency, and for the protesters and their human rights. More than 2,000 have been injured in months of demonstrations that the Chinese government characterizes as “riots,” but selling sneakers, jerseys, and the game But they instead folded all too readily, all too eager to hold onto the dollars that they glean from the Communist nation. RollingStone reports:
The NBA issued a sorry statement, declaring the league realizes that the tweet may have “deeply offended” Chinese fans and that they “have great respect for the history and culture of China,” as if that had anything to do with a bill that could be used to disappear journalists and critics of an autocratic regime. Morey, who The Ringer reports was at one point in jeopardy of losing his job, tweeted his own apology that read like it was dictated by his boss. Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, a co-founder of Chinese e-commerce conglomerate Alibaba, published an open letter on Facebook that referred to protesters as a “separatist movement.” Even James Harden, the Rockets’ star guard, issued a mea culpa for some reason, even though he wasn’t involved.
That last bit of rank submission to an autocratic regime captured the full extent of the NBA’s sellout to China. Several politicians on the left and right, including presidential candidate Julián Castro and Rep. Ben Sasse (R-MO), called out the NBA’s cowardice. Even Rockets fan Ted Cruz took a principled stand:
As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protestors in Hong Kong.— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 7, 2019
Now, in pursuit of big $$, the @nba is shamefully retreating. https://t.co/7waMde5KrM
CNBC also reports:
China’s increasing economic engagement with the free countries of the West was supposed to open the country up to more democracy and freedom. Instead, the overwhelming evidence shows the government in Beijing has used its growing wealth and economic influence to suppress the population even more, build up its military to antagonize more of its neighbors, and increase its repressive influence abroad with massive infrastructure programs that actually translate into high-risk debt for the takers.