NBA, Stop Being Selective With Social Justice

Ryan Jones, Sports Editor

The National Basketball Association and its’ commissioner Adam Silver have long campaigned themselves as being the most socially aware professional sports league, and have lived up to that high billing. That is, until it hurts the league’s pockets.

Last week, the NBA got into hot water after Houston Rockets’ general manager Daryl Morey tweeted out a picture that stated, “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” in response to Hong Kong’s ongoing protests over China’s proposed extradition bill.

China and the NBA’s relationship stems back to the 1980’s, but the league started actually sending teams to play preseason games in the country in 2004. The NBA is currently in a five-year contract with China worth $1.5 billion, some “hush money” that has so far incentivized the league to keep their lips tightly sealed on matters regarding the country.

So far, some of the league’s most vocal figures on political issues have done little more than tuck their tails between their legs when asked about the China situation by the media. Steve Kerr and Greg Popovich, who both have been quick to voice their opinion on Donald Trump, have resorted to pleading ignorance on the issue.

It would be one thing if Kerr or Popovich had come out and said that they were not allowed to comment on the matter, which is likely the case here. While it’s great that these coaches have the platform they do, and have so many times in the past used it correctly, to not stand by Morey for advocating democracy and instead outcasting the Rockets’ GM is not only a big step in the wrong direction for the NBA, but also a blatant misuse of their platform.

Players have no requirement to comment on this issue, and people asking them to simply don’t understand the real problem here. Owners, GM’s and Silver being complicit with China’s terrible policies and actions show where their true intentions lie, and it’s not with social justice, it’s with making money.

In 2017, the NBA pulled the All-Star game from Charlotte, North Carolina after state lawmakers refused to repeal the state’s transgender bathroom law. Silver’s move was applauded by the media and many fans alike, and rightfully so. This was a great decision from the commissioner, and was another example of the NBA taking a stand on social issues while other sports, like the National Football League, continually make the wrong moves in matters like this.

While this was again a great decision by Silver, how can he rationalize this while continually ignoring some of the unspeakable acts happening in China? There are a reported one million muslims in China currently being held in “re-education camps,” which is just a nice way of saying concentration camps. These people have been tortured, starved and some even allegedly murdered in these camps that aren’t too far from some of China’s arenas where the NBA plays. China for months has denied the existence of these camps, but now are finally admitting to them. The only catch, however, is that China is claiming that they are being used to combat terrorism, which of course could not be farther from the truth.

Beyond the run-of-the-mill torture used in these camps, China has been accused of sterilizing women in these concentration camps and forcing abortions, some of which extremely late into the pregnancy.

Issues like these reach far beyond the realm of sports. If the NBA truly wants to market itself as proponents of social justice, then they should start by taking a stand against China’s inhumane treatment towards its’ people, instead of cashing checks from them.