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Sunday, October 06, 2019

So glad sports are not political

Houston Rockets GM last week tweeted "Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong." This pissed off Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, who insisted that Morey does not speak for the Rockets, which is a "non-political organization," although Fertitta regularly publicizes his support for the Bushes and President Trump. Morey's tweet caused the Chinese Basketball Association, headed by former Rocket star Yao Ming, to suspend cooperation with the Rockets following Morey's "'improper remarks regarding Hong Kong' to which it expressed its 'strong opposition.'" The NBA, trying to save its business interests, responded with the following word salad:

We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals' educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China, and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.

The ESPN story highlighted the league trumpeting the "open flow of ideas," although those words appear nowhere in the NBA statement and the reaction by the Rockets owner, the CBA, and the NBA all seem to reflect a desire to staunch the flow of ideas, since the premise of every reaction is that Morey was out of line to tweet a political opinion. Plus, in what universe is a statement in support of people protesting freedom "regrettable"? And who was "deeply offended," besides the leaders of an authoritarian state that is the target of pro-western protests?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on October 6, 2019 at 10:03 PM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


And fans removed and signs confiscated in Washington.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Oct 10, 2019 12:06:10 AM

fans in Philly were booted from a game between the Sixers and a Chinese club, because the fans were holding pro-HK signs.

Posted by: anon | Oct 9, 2019 10:15:43 AM

At least there's always esports--aaaaaand, they're gone.

Posted by: Derek Tokaz | Oct 8, 2019 1:58:24 PM

@Howard, to what extent, though? it's easy for us to criticize because it's not our money or our product or our business at stake.

we can't challenge China economically, that's bad, the Democrats have said so. we're certainly not going to challenge them physically.

so i'm unclear why NBA managers should be expected to sacrifice their business interests sticking up for a principle that nobody else is going to back with any meaningful actions.

not trying to be a troll, and i'm super happy you're pro-free speech. all of this just seems very much like a tempest in a tea pot considering *nobody* actually wants to confront China over free speech.

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Oct 7, 2019 7:11:01 PM

I don't know about liberals and academics. I am pro free speech.

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | Oct 7, 2019 5:36:14 PM

So this week liberals and academics are anti-China?

Posted by: thegreatdisappointment | Oct 7, 2019 5:27:27 PM

China is a huge market for the NBA and the government there takes comments like Morey's very seriously. If you want to do business there, you'd better learn how to kowtow. Hopefully for Disney which gets as much movie revenue from China as they do from the US, they won't hold what Disney subsidiary ESPN said against the corporation.

Posted by: PaulB | Oct 6, 2019 11:44:33 PM

Watch last week's South Park episode.

Posted by: Anon | Oct 6, 2019 11:20:20 PM

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