Two NBA fans attending a game in Philadelphia say they were kicked out of the stands for holding “Free Hong Kong” signs at a game between the 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong Lions.
— Sam Wachs (@gogowachs) October 9, 2019
— Christie Ileto (@Christie_Ileto) October 9, 2019
A pair of fans holding “Free Hong Kong” signs were booted from a Philadelphia 76ers game against Chinese squad Guangzhou Loong Lions Tuesday night, according to new reports.
Sam Wachs and his wife had attended the preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia when their neon green signs were confiscated by security, NBC Philadelphia reported.
The couple was then escorted out after yelling “Free Hong Kong” during the second quarter.
“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,’” Wachs told NBC. “What’s wrong with that?”
What’s wrong with it is that the Wachs ran afoul of the NBA’s policy of licking the boots of the Chinese Communists, who were angered when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey sent out a tweet supporting the Hong Kong protesters. He was taken to task by the Rocket’s owner for trying to make the team a “political organization.” Morey subsequently deleted the tweet — while keeping a tweet critical of Donald Trump in his feed.
The Rockets’ groveling to the Communists didn’t help. The Chinese Basketball Association suspended their relationship with the Rockets and the Chinese press office issued a stern warning about meddling in Chinese affairs.
It didn’t end there. Apparently, because Morey wasn’t fired (and presumably, beheaded), the Chinese government brought the hammer down on the entire NBA.
Chinese state-run television network CCTV said it was suspending the current broadcast arrangements for the NBA’s preseason games in China.
Tencent, which owns the digital streaming rights for NBA in China, said it would also “temporarily suspend” the preseason broadcast arrangements.
And just to drive the point home that if America wants to play ball in China, they’re going to have to ditch the First Amendment, the state-run TV network issued an unyielding statement about censorship:
“We are strongly dissatisfied and we oppose Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right of free expression. We believe that any speech that challenges national sovereignty and social stability is not within the scope of freedom of speech,” CCTV said in its statement in Chinese, which was translated by CNBC.
The state-run TV channel also said it will “immediately investigate all co-operation and exchanges involving the NBA.”
It shouldn’t surprise us that the National Basketball Association has gone full Commie in their kowtowing to Chinese political interests. The league has demonstrated time and time again over the years that they will always bend to doing what’s expedient, not what’s right.
The NBA is a multi-billion-dollar worldwide company, with a billion fans spanning the globe. But America is still America. There may be a lot of money to be made in China off the people’s excitement about seeing the best basketball players in the world, but at what cost? Should the NBA sell their souls to fatten their wallets?
This is the dilemma that has faced American businesses and American-based corporations since the opening to China a couple of decades ago. So far, the struggle between holding on to sacred American values or giving in to tyranny has been largely decided in favor of the Communists.
But as companies became more economically entangled with China, they stopped having any interest in uttering a critical word about China. You stopped hearing about Tibet, or the Falun Gong. As the Chinese government started assembling a surveillance network that would make George Orwell gasp, American companies were happy to supply the tech. The employees and leaders of Google didn’t renew a deal with the U.S. Pentagon, contending the Pentagon’s use of their artificial intelligence tech violated their moral principles. But the company didn’t see working with the Chinese military as similarly problematic. (Back in the early days of the war on terror, some of us would scoff about self-proclaimed peace activists that they weren’t anti-war, they were just pro-the-other-side.)
Perhaps it’s too harsh to say that American companies like the NBA have sold their souls for 30 pieces of silver. China is a huge market and it would be irresponsible for a publicly-traded company to ignore the economic opportunities inherent in bringing their product to the attention of a billion people.
But businesses are social organisms as well. They exist in our community and should be expected to uphold community values. That includes supporting the guaranteed American right to make public comment on the issues of the day. Foreign countries that don’t understand this or reject it should be told in no uncertain terms to go hang themselves if they’re upset about it.
The NBA is going to have to decide which side they’re on: Freedom or tyranny.