Speaking out in the NBA is Only Good When it Doesn't Impact the Bottom Line
Congratulations NBA and Commissioner Adam Silver, you managed to take a minor inconvenience and make it an International Incident. That's not easy to do.
For those who don't know what's up; it all began with a Tweet by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey which was deleted---but essentially expressed Morey's support for "Pro-Democracy" efforts in Hong Kong. Not the team's thoughts----Morey's thoughts.
The tweet was almost immediately repudiated by Morey's boss, Rockets Owner Tilman Ferrita but that just added a heaping helping of fuel to the fire when he tried to emphasize it was a mistake to say that and Morey did not speak for the Rockets.
Why you ask? Well, for one---thanks to several changes in the political world in which we now live, everything is about politics and image. And for reasons that I'll NEVER understand, people take things posted on Twitter as absolutes and in far too many instances---treated as legitimate news.
I'll just add that a lot of people say things on Social Media that should NEVER be said because once something is out there on the internet, you can't take it back. (Whole other subject)
What concerns a lot of people (me included) is the instant capitulation and begging for forgiveness by the NBA. Over the past decade or two, the NBA has become a big, a very big business in China. And the Chinese are now playing the insulted, injured card here---to the absolute hilt.
The Chinese Government has come out firing---wanting nothing to do with the Rockets, telling state run media to NOT report on or broadcast any Houston games.
There are not millions, but Billions of dollars that flow between the NBA and China and ultimately---that's what this quickly has become about. Which is the crux of the problem with all of this.
The Chinese Government has come out firing---wanting nothing to do with the Rockets, telling state run media to NOT report on or broadcast any Houston games.y, there are a certain percentage of people who will tie you and your employer to the statement. Heck, I work for a business where I can't say anything political because of that very reason. So I don't.
That challenge becomes even bigger when you come to realize what you say in the U.S. may be interpreted completely different than you intended somewhere else. What Morey Tweeted is something almost everyone in the states seems to agree with or not have a problem with. But at the same time---it runs contrary to the belief system in China (or at least the one the Government says people should have).
The whole things has become the proverbial Mountain out of a molehill and there's now no easy way out. Can the NBA survive the loss of income from China? Yeah, sure, of course they can. Are they willing to write it off because of this? No, I don't think so. Will this be an issue 6 months from now? Probably not.
Adam Silver has gone out of his way to say he encourages players to speak their minds about the world in which they live. Quite a few NBA players have taken strong stances in regards to politics here in the U.S. and the current regime in charge. Silver has not dissuaded them from talking about it because there is little anyone here in the states can do to penalize them for it.
But when you are talking about the pocket book for a Professional Sports League where nearly everyone has an 8 or 9 figure bank account, it's a different conversation.
Is there an easy solution to this problem? No. Will it go away or calm over time? Yes, I think it will. Like I said earlier, the NBA will draw eyeballs and get plenty of attention for the games once they start in earnest here in their home country. Would it be great for them to have the massive Chinese audience? Sure, will it make or break the league? No.
And that's the bottom line.....