China & Basketball

What annoys me about the NBA is the blatant hypocrisy around Donald Sterling and Hong Kong.  The true value the NBA cares about are “dollars” and they should just say that.  They don’t really care about “racism” or “free speech.”  I think that’s what annoys me the most.  Motivations masquerading as faux-values that are ingenuine.

Let’s visit the China/Hong Kong for just a minute first: Human rights violations.  Organ harvesting.  The “Two Governments; One Country” agreement that ends in 2047.  Hong Kong is –literally– owned by China.

I mean, I don’t think this needs to be said, but let’s just recap quickly:  China is mono-party unitary state with no free speech, no free press, and no notion or even inkling of human rights.  Religion is illegal.  Political dissidents are jailed indefinitely without due process or trial.  And the State uses eminent domain to basically just forcibly relocate people to build whatever they want (Eg. See 2008 Beijing Olympics).

The fact that the NBA is even in China making crazy profits is alone, even disregarding everything else, where the league’s true moral compass points:  Money.  Lots and lots of money.

To be clear, from the extremely little I do know about Silver (I’ve seen him in one YouTube clip that a friend recommended to me), I do think Silver is 100% against racism.  But I feel he saw Donald Sterling more as an opportunistic vehicle and an “easy win.”  It was essentially two birds with one stone.  A domestic issue that catered to his base that also coincided with Silver’s own value and belief system.  Win-win for everyone all around (well, except Donald Sterling).

But if most the league’s watchers were white nationalists and Neo-Nazis, do you think Donald Sterling would’ve still been banned?

I’m a big believer that “values need to be tested.”  And absent a real-world test, it’s all just hot air.  It’s all just empty words and mere platitudes.  I would respect Silver a lot more if he simply just said:  “We care about American values when it suits us.  But above all, we care about money the most.”

“Oh!  But Silver stood up to China!”  (I can already hear some people saying, in my head.)

Yes, technically, I guess?  But honestly:  Did Silver have any other choice?

If Silver had kowtowed to the Chinese and actually banned/fired Morey, I believe the domestic response here in America would’ve been apocalyptic/apoplectic.  A foreign power dictating to an American what an American could say here in his own country of America?  Forget it.  Had this happened, Silver would’ve been called “spineless” and “feckless” in all shades of Wednesday.  He would’ve lost all respect and whatever stature here in the American market.

This is why I give Silver close to zero credit for “standing up for free speech” when it comes to Morey and China.  It was simply the only option he had available to him.  More a lack of options rather than a proactive choice.  Yes, it annoys China and will cost NBA some tens or hundreds of millions of dollars there.  But compared to the total destruction of Silver’s own image here in the American domestic market had Silver done anything otherwise, that cost is a pittance to pay.

Anyway, just some random thoughts I had on this Monday morning. Hope you’re off to a good week!