The buying power of the Chinese consumer has reached an extraordinary milestone, as the Communist dictatorship is now dictating certain aspects of the American First Amendment.
This despicable reality comes to us from the NBA, who has found a burgeoning market of basketball fans in the Far East as China’s working class wealth grows. Suddenly, the world’s most populous populace has spending money, something that was rarely the case in previous decades, and American culture is in high demand.
The only problem is that our freedom doesn’t exactly jibe with China’s authoritarianism, and a great many pieces of American pop culture have been deemed unsuitable for the tightly-restricted speech of the Chinese people…particularly when it comes to Beijing’s violent crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
After an NBA coach decided to air his opinion, siding with Hong Kong, China has essentially boycotted the NBA, taking their enormous cash-cow of a fanbase with them.
This has sent the league scrambling to save face with the Communist regime, even going so far as to bring King James in for some brown-nosing.
LeBron James weighed in on the tweet that led to a bust up in the middle of the NBA’s preseason courtship of China, labelling the remarks by Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey “misinformed or not really educated on the situation.” Morey tweeted out support for the pro-democracy protesters engaged in months-long demonstrations on the streets of Hong Kong. Morey’s Oct. 4 tweet “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong” was quickly deleted, but not before Beijing went berserk, threatening the league and pulling sponsorships. NBA commissioner Adam Silver bobbled the initial response, cowing to pressure from the Chinese government, but generally recovered to find a tolerable—if not laudable—middle ground to keep the NBA train on the track in China.
The league has certainly not covered itself in glory in its handling of the blowback over the Morey tweet and, in the process reminded fans across the U.S. that the NBA is, at its core, still a profit-seeking international organization serving multiple constituencies of which the most important one is money. China’s extreme response to a general manager of an American basketball team—albeit a very popular one in China because of Yao Ming’s career with the Rockets—shows how sensitive the country is to criticism of its most unflattering tendencies. Beijing’s response basically sent the league into silent mode, locking down its normally outspoken stars on all fronts, which was, of course, also the point.
James appeared to be drinking the Chinese propaganda Kool-Aid.
Just when the NBA thought the controversy had cleared, LeBron James sauntered into the maelstrom sounding very much like the Chinese government himself. “I don’t want to get into a feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” James said before a preseason game at Staples Center. “And so many people could have been harmed not only financially, physically, emotionally, spiritually. So just be careful what we tweet and say and we do, even though, yes, we do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative that comes with that, too.”
Essentially, the NBA has eschewed the First Amendment in order to make beaucoup bucks in Beijing, a move that will undoubtedly bring them criticism and failure not unlike the NFL’s unwillingness to address the Colin Kaepernick kneeling scandal.
In other words; American patriots are not going to stand for it.