NBA letter on China ‘inconceivable and disrespectful’
Sports Illustrated released the NBA’s reply to a U.S. senator’s inquiry into the financial relationship between the professional basketball league and Communist China.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who sent the inquiry to the NBA on June 30, called the NBA’s reply “inconceivable and disrespectful,” according to Sports Illustrated.
In their reply to Blackburn, the NBA claims that it shut the basketball camp in the Chinese province of Xinjiang that it ran previously; that the league lost $200-$400 million after China shut down NBA broadcasts; and that it has a marketing relationship with Alibaba, the Chinese internet company, for digital distribution of the NBA.
However, Blackburn said the NBA’s response to her inquiry wasn’t good enough.
Most importantly, she says, the NBA reply has not answered questions about the conflict between the values the NBA claims to profess and its relationship with China.
Blackburn expressed satisfaction that the NBA says it no longer offers basketball camps in Xinjiang, the home of re-education camps targeted at China’s Muslim minority.
“The NBA has had no involvement with the Xinjiang basketball academy for more than a year, and the relationship has been terminated,” Mark Tatum, the association’s deputy commissioner and the chief operating officer wrote to Blackburn.
However, Blackburn says the response “lacks the appropriate concern and responsibility that should accompany congressional correspondence.”
International and U.S. observers have been increasingly vocal about Chinese human rights violations in Xinjiang. Forced Chinese labor camps targeted at the Muslim minority in the region are at odds with the progressive image that the NBA tries to project in America.
“The actions of the NBA and some players have created an appearance that your league prioritizes profit over principle,” said Blackburn in her original inquiry.
NBA partners, such as Nike, have also come under fire for benefiting from slave labor in shoe factories in Qingdao province, for example, while hiring progressives like Colin Kaepernick to complain about racial inequality in the U.S.
Last fall, the NBA found itself in a controversy involving human rights abuses by China in Hong Kong and gave every appearance of favoring China over the rights of Hong Kongers.
Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out support for Hong Kong against Chinese interference and was hung out to dry by the NBA. Under pressure from the NBA, the Houston Rockets even considered firing Morey says Blake Schuster at Yahoo Sports.
Morey was also chastised by LeBron James, who called the tweet “misinformed.”
The NBA probably wants the whole Chinese controversy to go away. But given its foray into politics in the U.S., they shouldn’t count on it.
“The @NBA doesn’t want to talk about their financial relationship with Communist China, a country responsible for some of the greatest human rights violations of all time,” tweeted Blackburn today.
“Why won’t [NBA] Commissioner Silver address this?”
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