DENVER • Since the NBA and commish Adam Silver are hell-bent on maintaining friendly relations with China, let’s help them out.
The Chinese word for cowardice is qienuo.
Always handy to know the language in a foreign country. But there’s nothing lost in translation about the NBA’s stance on hypocrisy. They’re for it. The wokest league known to humankind will yank its All-Star Game out of North Carolina to protest the state’s transgender bathroom bill, but it will apologize to a Communist government where protest puts you in jail. It will ban the word “owner” from its own vernacular, but it will benefit from a nation that reportedly enslaves Muslims in concentration camps.
Why? Easy. Communists buy sneakers too.
The NBA’s true colors were exposed again when Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted (and later deleted) his support for the courageous Hong Kong protesters and all hell broke loose. They were exposed as Morey issued an apology for believing democracy is a good idea, as Silver issued a second statement when China canceled NBA telecasts (along with “South Park,” a real bummer), as James Harden looked into a camera and said, “We love China.”
Well, yeah. I love The Gazette for lots of reasons. No. 1 is that it helps pay the bills.
Hey, making all the money is cool by me. Make it rain. But next time the NBA’s legion of social justice warriors has a political opinion back home, remember their pathetic silence in China.
“Actually, I don’t (have a comment),” Warriors coach and political commentator Steve Kerr told reporters.
Now he’s sticking to sports. How convenient.
“You’re not used to me saying that, are you? No comment,” Kerr continued. “You’re all stunned.”
Not really. This is the NBA’s M.O. It plays to the audience that writes the checks. Nothing wrong with that, until you’re disingenuous about your motives.
The NBA had an opportunity to make an actual difference beyond LeBron James scribbling an enlightened message on a shoe, and they threw up another air ball. This is who they are. They are businessmen, first and foremost. They did this sort of thing with Nikola Jokic last year when the Nuggets’ All-Star center earned a $25,000 fine for a derogatory comment. No phone call to explain what he did wrong, no effort to actually help one of the league’s brightest young stars to learn from the episode. Just a fine and dozens of headlines that attached “anti-gay” with “Jokic” when there’s not a malicious bone in the big fella’s body.
The NBA is like so many outspoken enterprises who are more interested in appearing woke than actually doing the right thing. The right thing in this case would’ve been to not apologize for anything, to allow Morey to say whatever the hell he wants to say about an oppressive foreign government. Back home, it pays big bucks to take a woke stance on societal issues — real, perceived or total bunk. Sports media here lap it up and portray the wokest athletes and coaches as reasoned voices that deserve applause for their breathtaking bravery. Over there, in communist China, the quickest way to make a buck is to keep quiet and not tick anybody off.
The chameleon act of too many professional athletes is spectacular performance art, really.
What’s amazing is how many people buy it.
The NBA should play in China, if it wants to, but it needs to brush up on the native tongue. Here’s another translation to help with their stay: the Chinese word for hypocrite is weijunzi.
(Contact Gazette sports columnist Paul Klee at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @bypaulklee.)