“After Daryl Morey, the Houston Rockets’ general manager, tweeted in support of protestors in Hong Kong, he found himself at the center of an NBA-wide controversy concerning everyone from Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta to the Chinese government. The tweet has been deleted, but the debates on China’s role in the NBA continue.” SOURCE: The Ringer
This has been an interesting last few weeks for NBA commentators, as the most important topic of conversation in basketball circles has been (surprisingly) about the Hong Kong protests and China’s response to them. The origin of the story is lengthy, but some NBA employees tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters and the Chinese government, the Chinese Basketball Association, and Chinese media platforms did not like it one bit.
China is a massive market that the NBA has been nurturing since Yao Ming’s playing days, and it is almost too tantalizing a market to ignore. The NBA is now discovering that there is a price to pay to do business in China, and we are watching this tension between a league with a history of politically outspoken players, coaches, and general managers. Many are backpedaling (like LeBron James and Stephen Curry) as China keeps flexing.
In a similar vein, the new DreamWorks movie Abominable has a scene that shows the 9-dash line of the South China Sea. Vietnam and Malaysia have both pulled the movie from theaters in their countries. This is just another recent example of soft power being used to promote a political perspective through business connections.