The NBA's cowardice on ChinaRoundup
tags: sports, China, Protest, NBA
Zimmerman teaches education and history at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of “The Amateur Hour: A History of College Teaching in America,” which will be published next year by Johns Hopkins University Press.
The NBA is proud — and justly so — that its players are vocal about their politics. Led by LeBron James, the Miami Heat wore hoodies after Florida teenager Trayvon Martin was killed by a white neighbor in 2012. Two years later, James and other players wore T-shirts saying “I can’t breathe” to protest the death of Eric Garner at the hands of New York City police. The Golden State Warriors twice skipped the traditional post-championship visit to the White House, following bitter tweet exchanges with President Trump.
But to paraphrase Woodrow Wilson, the NBA’s politics stop at the water’s edge. Witness the quick slap-down of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who tweeted his support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong on Friday night. “Fight for Freedom, Stand With Hong Kong,” read the image that Morey shared.
Morey’s tweet earned an immediate rebuke from Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the Rockets, who are in Tokyo to train for a two-day exhibition series with the Toronto Raptors. They also have a huge following in China, where former Rockets star Yao Ming serves as president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
“Listen….@dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets,” Fertitta tweeted. “Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization.” Later, Fertitta told ESPN that the Rockets were in Asia “to play basketball and not to offend anybody.”
Got that? It’s perfectly fine to demand justice for Trayvon Martin or Eric Garner, or to condemn President Trump for his false and racist remarks. But when we’re overseas, we have to act like men — businessmen, to be precise — and put away childish things, like our politics. And our principles.
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