Daniel Victor, writing for The New York Times:
The episode began Friday night, when Daryl Morey, the general
manager of the Houston Rockets, posted an image on Twitter that
included a slogan commonly chanted during Hong Kong’s
pro-democracy protests: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”
He quickly deleted the tweet, but the damage was done.
Chinese fans, who see the Hong Kong protesters portrayed as
violent rioters in the state-run news media and largely regard
them as such, were furious. Sponsors paused their deals with the
Rockets, and the country’s main broadcaster said it would remove
the team’s games from its schedule.
The league issued an apology for Mr. Morey’s comments Sunday
night. That inflamed fans back home, where the protesters are
generally seen as pro-democracy fighters battling a repressive
government. Democratic and Republican politicians found agreement
in calling the league gutless, accusing it of prioritizing money
over human rights.
Striking, but unsurprising, that high-profile Republicans are (correctly) willing to speak out in opposition to the NBA’s kowtowing to China, but just shrug their shoulders at the president of the United States’s public request for the Chinese to open a bogus investigation into his political opponent.
Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai tries to justify the NBA’s kowtowing in this Facebook post:
The NBA is a fan-first league. When hundreds of millions of fans
are furious over an issue, the league, and anyone associated with
the NBA, will have to pay attention. As a Governor of one of the
30 NBA teams, and a Chinese having spent a good part of my
professional life in China, I need to speak up.
What is the problem with people freely expressing their opinion?
This freedom is an inherent American value and the NBA has been
very progressive in allowing players and other constituents a
platform to speak out on issues.
The problem is, there are certain topics that are third-rail
issues in certain countries, societies and communities.
That the Chinese consider support for freedom in Hong Kong a “third-rail issue” should not deter Americans from speaking out on Hongkongers’ behalf. And it is deeply disingenuous of Tsai to portray the protests in Hong Kong as a “separatist movement” — that’s the Chinese state media line.
★ Monday, 7 October 2019