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Little did Dr. James Naismith know when he invented the game of basketball in Springfield, Mass., in 1891 that, more than a century hence, it would become beholden to its Chinese overlords.

The NBA disgraced itself kowtowing to Beijing after the general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted his support for Hong Kong protesters.

The words he associated himself with — “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong” — would seem uncontroversial. Who doesn’t hope for the best for plucky demonstrators trying to advance democracy against an overweening imperial dictatorship?

Rich Lowry mug

Rich Lowry

Morey, though, failed to adequately account for the feelings of the dictatorship. “I was merely voicing one thought,” he said, in a groveling tweet after deleting his original offending one, “based on one interpretation, of one complicated event. I have had a lot of opportunity since that tweet to hear and consider other perspectives.”

The “other perspectives” are those of people supporting a regime that is determined to crush Hong Kong underfoot, maintain a one-party state that stifles all internal dissent, brutally repress Uighur Muslims, grab the South China Sea, build up its military with an eye to a future confrontation with United States and rewrite the rules of the international order to its liking.

But who’s to judge?

In its own lickspittle statement, the NBA said that Morey’s views “have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable.” It appears that the Chinese-language version was even more extravagantly craven, saying that the league is “extremely disappointed” in the GM’s “inappropriate” tweet that “severely hurt the feelings of Chinese fans.”

If you follow the NBA and missed the part where Red China stole the league’s soul, it’s only because you haven’t paid enough attention to the international business.

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China is a huge and growing market for the NBA. When Chinese sponsors and partners of the Rockets began to pull out, the team and the league buckled.

It’s a matter of filthy lucre, pure and simple. In retrospect, all the old Soviet Union would have needed to distort corporate America for its purposes was a large and lucrative market.

Too committed to communism, Moscow never managed to create one. Via its hybrid system of semi-capitalism wedded to a repressive one-party state, Beijing did. The resulting riches and potential customers allow it to yank the chain of an array of American businesses, including the NBA.

The joke of it is that here at home the league flaunts its woke social conscience. The NBA used the leverage of its All-Star Game coming to Charlotte to force changes to a North Carolina bathroom bill, in the name of “equality.”

One would think that re-education camps for a million Uighurs — to pick just one of China’s human rights abuses — is much worse than any choice North Carolina makes about its restrooms. Even if all that the NBA cares about is LGBTQ issues, it should be repelled by China’s policies, which run counter to everything that the NBA purports to stand for.

This episode exposes the league’s gutless hypocrisy. So long as social activism is costless — or enhances its reputation among the right people in the United States — the NBA is all about its values. As soon as there is any price, it is willing to salute smartly at the dictates of one of the most cynical, self-interested regimes on Earth.

Of course, any profit-generating enterprise is going to care about its bottom line most of all. That shouldn’t efface all sense of decency and self-respect, though.

James Harden, the Houston Rockets star, has grown very rich and famous playing an American game in an American league. His reaction to Morey’s tweet was unequivocal: “We apologize.”

He thus neatly encapsulated the willingness of a segment of the American business elite to express a kind of national loyalty to a nation that isn’t its own.

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Rich Lowry is editor of the National Review.

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(27) comments

Rick Czeczok

Sports should stay out of politics. Especially when they are making money over an issue. It just looks bad. But in sports it's anything for a buck.

DMoney

This is a prime example of why sports need to stay completely and unequivocally neutral with politics and global affairs. It's the one universal avenue that people can turn to be entertained, energized and united despite political influences. Losing that would be losing a lot.

Cassandra2

Wrong. The NBA is doing business there. They cannot stand idly by and watch the murder of human rights activists. They have a moral obligation to speak out.

DMoney

They do? Is their business not basketball and the promotion of it's games and players? They aren't in politics and have no reason to be.

PhysicsIsFun

Here you go Dball. I know it's just "speculation and opinion" but it happened, https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/08/28/tan-suit-scandal-obama-trump/

PhysicsIsFun

You know most of us are not in politics, but we are all part of this country and the world. So we have an opinion. People state their opinions. You state your opinion, and it is sickening, but we read it. We shake our heads and go about our day and wonder what type of person thinks this way. I know it is all speculation, but that is most politics. It has no objective right answer. Nothing can be proven, but we sure know how we feel about things.

Cassandra2

In an effort to be contrarian, the D-Bag and the rest of the predictable wingnut crowd are willing to say that companies should step back and let governments murder citizens and jail them without trial as long as American companies are allowed to profit. THAT is their moral compass in a nutshell.

oldhomey

So good to see Rich "Profiles in Courage" Lowry standing up for plucky demonstrators trying to advance democracy against an overweening imperial dictatorship. I wonder if he will ever stand up for plucky demonstrators trying to advance democracy against an overweening imperial president in this country.

DMoney

Overweening imperial president... you can PROVE that, of course...........?

oldhomey

Pray tell, D, how do you interpret Trump refusing to release documents and cutting his staff off from testifying before a duly constituted investigation of impeachable offenses he has already publicly acknowledged of having committed. The cat is now out of the bag, and with it have come a mounting mass of evidence of his disloyalty and criminality in regard to the nation he is sworn to lead. Look no further than the arrest at the airport today of two of Giuliani's henchmen who were scurrying like rats off a sinking ship to Europe with one-way tickets, hours after dining at Trump Hotel in DC with Giuliani himself. How long do you think milquetoasts like Giuliani and Rick Perry will keep silent when they see where this presidency and this president are headed, knowing how he is loyal to no one and quick to throw anybody under the bus to save his own skin. He is already trying to do that to Perry publicly, and you know damned well he will soon be doing it to Giuliani, the most puzzling "defense" strategist ever to walk into the White House, charged with trying to defend the most corrupt human being ever elected to the White House.

DMoney

Speculation and opinion.

oldhomey

That is what the Nixon administration said about the Woodward and Bernstein revelations. It is until it isn't

Cassandra2

Most American businesses don't care a whit about human rights or the state or fate of our nation. The NBA's actions only prove that their ENTIRE motivation is money.

DMoney

You lost your credibility to criticize American businesses. You clearly stated your undying support for American businesses and their ethical codes this past summer when you stood by Nike for their alliance with rabble-rouser Kapernick. I won't forget that and I won't let anyone forget it. I can't quote it but you said something to the effect of American businesses have traditionally set the moral compass for America. There's no backtracking now.

capedcrusader

You can't "quote it" and yet you brought it up. Hearsay won't help me remember it. I find it interesting that you and a lot of other Republicans are staunch supporters of the 2nd amendment but not the first.

DMoney

I'm not quoting it because I don't know or have the word for word. Anyone who read C-bags summer defense of corporate morals and values knows what I'm saying is true, regardless of my quotations.

capedcrusader

You called Kaepernick a rabbel -rouser when he was exercising his first amendment rights. (and using HIS platform to do it). Trump has been doing the same thing with his speech and yet you endorse that . And make no mistake about it, that's what you are doing even when Trump says something you don't like. Silence is condoning and Kaepernick refused to be silent any longer and because you disagreed with his way of doing it you think he's a rabble-rouser. He was right in the context of the constitution and you and others were wrong to cherry pick the way he went about it.

DMoney

Caped, go read about what happened this summer with Nike and the original States flag symbol and Kaepernick. Don't tell me that wasn't absolutely ridiculous.

Cassandra2

D-bag, go and read about the settlement between Kapernick and the NFL. They're conspiring against him because of his exercise of his free speech rights, but they are paying for it.

Cassandra2

D-Bag we are all familiar with your disdain for anyone who supports human rights. I don't require your permission or approval to stand for human rights. You stand only for profiteering, no matter the cost. Businesses DO need to set the standard, and they will find that their bottom line is affected when they don't.

DMoney

I didn't ask your permission or approval, C-bag. I referenced the stance you clearly took which contradicts your current opinion. You jump on the "corporate America" bandwagon when it suits you, and shout and scream and complain when it doesn't. Anyone here with a memory knows it.

oldhomey

Gosh, D, you REALLY know how to come down hard on somebody! The support of Colin Kaepernick by Nike constitutes one of the most un-American -- verily, mayhaps, TREASONOUS?? -- acts in the history of the republic. We all should stand shoulder to shoulder with you and march out in support of our wonderful president, the guy who openly asks foreign nations to interfere with our elective process, even offering quid pro quos, siding with the worst dictators in the world against the interests of the U.S. and our traditional allies, even accepting the word of Vladimir Putin publicly over the assessment of the entire U.S. intelligence community. Such credibility that you display cannot be bought. Unless, of course, the quid pro quo for you comes from the American one percenters who, for your loyalty, you presume will give you a slightly larger pile of left over crumbs than the rest of us?

DMoney

He didn't, and you know it. Only the dumb and the blind/deaf would actually, sincerely believe that and you are none of the above.

oldhomey

Ahem. D, he did it on camera in front of the entire nation and world.

Cassandra2

The D-Bag and the rest of the Trump apologists will tell you that reality is not reality and that what happened never happened. It's willful and belligerent ignorance.

capedcrusader

DMoney - it was absolutely ridiculous to exercise his First Amendment right? Sounds to me like you only believe in the Constitution when it fits what your opinion is.

The Mouse of Death

[censored]It would be behoove the NBA to be like the Moscow Mitch and sell out the USA to the Kremlin of Red China. We are indeed bemezzled by the Benedict Donald who asked Communist China for the dirt on the NBA.

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