SocraticGadfly: NBA's "outspoken" and "woke" like Steve Kerr, LeBron look bad on China even as Commish Silver blazes a trail

October 08, 2019

NBA's "outspoken" and "woke" like Steve Kerr, LeBron look bad
on China even as Commish Silver blazes a trail

After Houston Rockets owner and general toady Tilman Fertitta told GM Daryl Morey to cool it with supporting Hong Kong protestors cuz NBA money in China, and Rockets money in China ever since Yao Ming, NBA Commish Adam Silver said the league supports Morey's free speech rights. Silver stopped short of a blanket endorsement of Morey's actions, even as Morey and Fertitta's ace player, James Harden, did a Eurostep over Morey's dead body to love on China. Per that piece's including a new Tweet by Morey, it looks like Fertitta at a minimum encouraged him to eat some Twitter crow. Russell Westbrook was giving silent wingman support to Harden.

BIG new update, Oct. 17: Silver now says the CHINESE GOVERNMENT asked him to fire Morey.

Part 2, Oct. 18: The Chinazis (it's fun to say, but the Trump Trainers have no standing to use it) are now saying there was no "requirement" to fire Morey. Sounds like Beijing's Foreign Ministry has higher-quality shyster lawyers than does Donald Trump. Yes, Chinazis, Silver never said "requirement." He said he was "asked."

Look, any time Booger Cruz is on the right side of an issue, and on the same side as a Democrat like Julián Castro, it's bad.


And, it's now spreading beyond Texas.

Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, was asked for his take? His take was a tap dance around saying nothing.

There may be bits of truth to his statement.

That said, the idea that wingnuts are roasting him only because he's wrong here are themselves a laugh, as anybody with a brain knows.

He's getting roasted for his past history of things like anti-Trump and pro-Kaep stances, which are actually correct.

That said, the idea that someone who follows politics as much as Kerry does domestically knows nothing about Hong Kong — especially with the Warriors moving across the Bay this year to San Francisco, nationally famous for its Chinatown — is pretty laughable. It's doubly laughable when we forget that Kerr's father, Malcolm Kerr, was president of American University in Beirut, Lebanon and that his parents met while rescuing Armenian genocide survivors. Kerr's grandfather, Stanley, also was at American University and again, after earlier helping Armenian refugees. Kerr himself grew up in Lebanon.

Kerr comes off as no better with a full back-and-forth on Twitter:
Oops. Besides, by the time Kerr issued his tap dance, it was becoming clearer this was about Chinese big-footing in general, not just Hong Kong.

And, "not passionate" about this? OK. Steve .... well, you've probably opened up another can of worms. Assuming you are more versed about post-1999 Hong Kong than you'll admit, "not passionate" doesn't come off well.

And, while Morey was attacked over Hong Kong, there's the Uighurs and more. C'mon, Steve, and others? That said, Morey had crickets until worried about a personal friend in Hong Kong. So, not passionate because it's not personal? Well, Steve, neither you nor I (I think) PERSONALLY knows a Guatemalan immigrant family separated at the border, but both of us protest.

ESPN, the Great Red Satan, has put itself in the hypocrisy circle too. Per that link, Deadspin has an internal memo (gotta love ESPNers leaking to Deadspin, right?), news director Chuck Salitaro tried to squelch any discussion of C-H-I-N-A. Kudos to former Dallas Snooze columnist Kevin Blackistone for not playing along. Per a link there, ESPN struck a deal with Chinese NBA broadcaster Tencent back in 2016. It's a HUGE deal — exclusive ESPN content in China and more.

THAT said, back to the wingnuts trying to harsh the NBA mellow. Bari Weiss? Grade A hypocrite. Wants anti-Zionist Jews to self-censor, but complains when she thinks (wrongly) the NBA is doing the same. (Silver's unspoken caveat: He can't do a thing over a Tilman Fertitta forcing employees to censor.) Clay Jenkins? Wingnut sports butt-boy for wingnuts.

Silver has now issued a follow-up, saying the league "Will not put itself in the position of regulating what players, employees or team owners say or will not say."

Standing by on what Gregg Popovich might or might not say. The league's most outspoken individual player, LeBron James, is also maintaining social media radio silence, it seems. (LeBron's corporate sponsor Nike, per the NYT, has yanked some of its shoes from China over the designer of these particular shoes supporting Hong Kong.)

LeBron has now, as of Oct. 14, officially joined Nike on hypocrisy watch, and redoubled that with his laughable claim that Morey was "misinformed and not educated."

Well, gee, King James, we ARE talking about China. Maybe Xi Jinping has a spare spot for Morey in a re-education camp?

On Twitter, LeBron has now clarified (I think) his original statement. Translation: LeBron's saying that Morey didn't know how much MONEY his Tweet would hurt. As for LeBron himself? This new piece talks about how many yuan he might be losing.

And now, Andrew Bogut is throwing some shade, in good sub-Tweeting style, at King James.
Meanwhile, wingnuts are hypocritically piling on.

This all said, as NBA games on China are broadcast on state-run CCTV, per Bloomberg, it's likely that not a lot of money is at stake.

In his full statement on the league website, Silver has said this is NOT about money ("growing the league") but about NBA values. He said that while he recognizes different political systems are involved, the NBA is standing by its values.
"For those who question our motivation, this is about far more than growing our business. Values of equality, respect and freedom have long defined the NBA — and will continue to do so."
In case he hadn't made himself clear, Silver doubled down on this with a second statement four hours later. This came after CCTV had announced it will not broadcast NBA preseason games scheduled to be played in China. Silver, while admitting he was surprised by the CCTV move, said that t
"But if those are the consequences of our values, I still feel it's very, very important to adhere to our values."
Silver's got a backer now that wingnuts love to hate.

Gregg Popovich shows Steve Kerr how it's done. "I felt great again," Pops said when reading about Silver's two statements. Let's quote Pops in detail:

“[Silver] came out strongly for freedom of speech. I felt great again. He’s been a heck of a leader in that respect and very courageous. Then you compare it to what we’ve had to live through the past three years, it’s a big difference. A big gap there, leadership-wise and courage-wise,” Popovich said. “It wasn’t easy for him to say. He said that in an environment fraught with possible economic peril. But he sided with the principles that we all hold dearly, or most of us did until the last three years. I’m thrilled with what he said. The courage and leadership displayed is off the charts by comparison.”
And that's how it's done. It's true that Kerr didn't have, unless he had browsed for it, Silver's first statement available, and certainly not his second. But, he could have said "I trust the commissioner will have a more detailed response or something."

But, he chose to say what he did.

At the same time, wingnuts try to spin Pops away while ignoring that Trump himself refuses to "attack China."

Silver is otherwise trying to thread a needle. He said the league is "apologetic" about Chinese reaction. But he also said the league is not apologizing for Morey.

Per the NYT, Game 6 of last year's Finals, when you adjust for population differences (which the NYT's Daniel Victor did not), had one-quarter of the TV market penetration in China as in the US. AND, that was with Toronto, and its Canadian audience, not counting in the US numbers. Now, it's true, those numbers could continue to grow. But, as of this time, and when adjusts for income differences, etc.? Silver's got "some concern" but still has firm ground at the same time.

But, what about unis and other swag? This is China, is my response. What percent of NBA gear already being sold there is knockoff? Fifty percent? More?

And, as far as Tencent? It's already contracted for NBA rights in China. I don't know how much it's paid, but if it tries to weasel out, NBA is looking at breach of contract. Of course, if it escalates, Chinese President Xi Jinping could simply refuse to let anybody bid on a new contract and try to cram a fait accompli down Silver's throat.

As for Joe Tsai of Alibaba now being majority owner of the Brooklyn Nets? He's on the hook like Tencent. He pushes back too much against Silver backing free speech? Is he going to sell the team? At that point? He's selling a losing proposition.

Otherwise, as Daniel Victor reported in another piece up today, about South Park being censored by China? Its producers added further mockery to the next issue.

Silver will probably do a good job of continuing to thread this needle, and owners and players will realize there's still more money to be made, or lost, on the American side of the Pacific than on the Chinese side.


Update(s) Oct. 10: James Harden is officially looking like either a dumb fuck or a grifting bastich if he thinks "we all" have freedom of speech and is apparently including Chinese in that, per Red Satan reporting on a Rockets presser. That was preceded by Rockets media relations PR staff cutting off a reporter when she started asking about China, making Tilman Fertitta appear as if he hasn't "gotten the memo" from Silver.

Keep it up, Rockets, and I could actually start hating you.

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