I don’t care if you are an avid National Basketball Association fan, a casual one or no fan at all. This is huge news – with ramifications that, I have no doubt, will spread far beyond the NBA.
As I assume you know, there have been months of protests – with steadily increasing size and intensity – in Hong Kong. The reason for these protests is that the communist masters of mainland China, which provide no freedom to their people, are in the process of gradually turning Hong Kong – which still remembers its freedom under British rule – in the same direction.
Not surprisingly, this has caused a major backlash in Hong Kong; one which has spread far outside of China, including to the United States.
So what does this have to do with the NBA? The answer is that it has a lot to do with the NBA.
Most of the NBA’s merchandising (sneakers, etc.) is produced in China, and a ton of these goods are sold in major Chinese cities. Because of this, protesters have now started targeting the NBA for its collaboration with China.
This has resulted, in among other things, the (well-deserved) trashing of NBA superstar LeBron James, who – presumably because of the gargantuan endorsement contract he has with Chinese-manufactured Nike products has spoken out in favor of China and against the protesters – including people who want to protest at NBA games. He has also criticized Daryl Morey – General Manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, for daring to come out in support of the protesters.
In this regard, it should be noted that, after Daryl Morey made his pro-Hong Kong protester statement, China pulled Houston Rockets’ gear from its stores in major cities like Beijing and Shanghai. I assume this was done as a significant warning to the league that speaking out for the protesters would not be tolerated.
And now we get to the games themselves.
On Friday, the Toronto Raptors played the Brooklyn Nets, in Brooklyn. And here is what happened, via the following excerpts from David Krayden’s article at dailycaller.com:
Tibetan rights activists joined Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters during a game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Toronto Raptors Friday night in New York City.
The demonstrators were hoping to use the occasion to highlight China’s draconian response to the Hong Kong pro-democracy protests and the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) tepid reaction to the Chinese crackdown on civil rights in the former British protectorate. They donned t-shirts emblazoned with “Free Tibet” and carried a banner that stated: “Tsai & LeBron: Morey was right, NBA: Stand for freedom,” according to a news release.
Is there any doubt that such in-arena protests are going to be seen in other markets as well?
And what do you think China will do when televised NBA games have people wearing shirts and carrying signs like they did at the Raptors/Nets game – again from the dailycaller.com article?
How soon before demands are made of the NBA, forcing the league to either knuckle under to a freedomless communist government or lose a ton of money?
Needless to say, I’ll be keeping an eye on this situation as it develops (which should be very, very quickly), and blog about subsequent events as they occur.