90 Miles From Tyranny : The NBA’s Bow To Chinese Repression Was Reprehensible

Monday, October 7, 2019

The NBA’s Bow To Chinese Repression Was Reprehensible

The only appropriate response from an American corporation in such a situation is some variation of ‘We stand by our people.’ Period.

As I was boarding my DC to Dallas flight, I read on Twitter that Chinese companies were suspending their ties with the Houston Rockets over a pro-Hong Kong tweet by its general manager, Daryl Morey. Assuming the NBA team had sided with Morey over Chinese communists, I congratulated @HoustonRockets and the league for standing by one of its own. I should have known better, but a part of me wants to believe this is what any American company would do.

Except the NBA apologized to China for Morey’s comments. According to the New York Times’ Sopan Deb, an NBA spokesperson issued the following statement:

We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.

Look, I work in corporate PR and I get it. China is a high-priority market for the NBA and I am sympathetic to communication teams that need to formulate responses to complex issues, but the Rockets’ statement is pathetic.

The only appropriate response from an American corporation in such a situation—including those trying to steer clear of international political controversies—is some variation of “We stand by our people.” Period. If a company cannot bring itself to say that, then it should say nothing at all.

Sadly, the NBA’s dastardly comments were not the result of PR malpractice. It is an accurate reflection of corporate America’s cowardice and pitiful moral neutrality on significant matters of strategic...

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1 comment:

  1. If you think the NBA response was bad, read the NBA response that was on the China server.


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