Let’s get it back to China.
The NBA’s relationship with the one-party state is not very good right now, but we appear to be turning a corner because game five of the Lakers/Heat series is going to be shown on TV over there:
After a one-year suspension that began last October, China’s CCTV says it will resume showing the NBA with Game 5 of the Finals tonight.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 9, 2020
To recap, we had a pseudo-international crisis when Rockets GM Daryl Morey came out in the preseason and tweeted his support for Hong Kong demonstrators, which resulted in reprimand from owner Tilman Fertitta and the Houston Chinese consulate. China threw a shit fit, cancelled games in that country, banned the sport from television, and then Morey was forced to apologize while commissioner Adam Silver tried to smooth over the relations with a carefully-worded statement.
We all know it was about money, and still is. The NBA values the Chinese market, which loves basketball more than any other western sport and puts hundreds of millions of dollars into league coffers annually. The problem with the NBA’s actions back then is that they found themselves in a catch-22 because they employ players and executives in a country that values freedom of speech while trying to make inroads with a country that does not. So when Morey dares question the actions of a Communist government that is currently oppressing minority populations on multiple fronts (see: Xinjiang), Silver is in the unenviable position of appeasing the authoritarians while asking Morey privately to just cool his jets and not rock the boat. Then, to add to the irony, the NBA goes above and beyond to support players in Orlando via the Black Lives Matter movement while continuing to ignore social justice transgressions from a miffed business partner.
To advance the story, the optimist would say that the NBA has an opportunity here to bridge the gap between countries that do not share the same values. Let’s try to find common ground and work on our relationship from there, or something along those lines. The pessimist would say that the league is just bending over for the Commies.
Maybe the reality is somewhere in the middle, though a lot of Americans will draw hard lines when it comes to the principles of Democracy and freedom of expression.