NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Sets Example for How US Businesses Should Deal with China

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Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey stirred up controversy earlier this week when he posted a tweet in support of the Hong Kong protests.

Morey tweeted an image that said “Fight for freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in support of Morey, “The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, by members of the NBA community, and in this case, Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees.”

It is surprising how well the NBA has handled the backlash from defending Morey’s tweet. They have been spot-on regarding how they are dealing with the censorship they face from the People’s Republic of China’s government.

The Hong Kong protests have been one of the biggest stories in the news for the past few months, caused by the PRC’s proposed extradition bill, with tensions rising even after the bill was pulled by the government.

We’ve recently seen companies like Activision Blizzard and Apple choose to make contentious decisions when faced with their handling of business in relation to the Hong Kong protests.

I understand that companies will avoid losing insane amounts of money by caving to the Chinese government’s demands, but that doesn’t make it any less frustrating when they decide to take extreme measures to ensure a good relationship.

It would be sad to see an American sports company like the NBA cave to the will of a totalitarian government that has a history of violating human and civil rights, such as their treatment of the Uyghur Muslims, Tibetans and similar minority groups by putting them in so-called “Re-education camps.”

As a huge fan of the NBA, I’m glad to say that I am content with how they are allowing their public figures to go uncensored, even if it means potential losses for the league.

Even with the NBA’s stance on China, it’s inevitable that some people will still be uncomfortable with how much vested financial interest the company has in a government that is undemocratic by its nature.

The NBA looks extremely progressive with its position. This is by far the most tumultuous situation that Silver has ever had to deal with as commissioner, and he is handling it as well as one could expect given the international and political implications.

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