Greedy NBA fails to honor freedom of speech, avoids Hong Kong protest

Story by Jacob Phillips, Online Editor

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One tweet. That’s all it takes to get an entire team, league and country to turn on someone. 

To Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey the protest in China and the way the government has been treating the protesters is unacceptable and has led to an international controversy. 

This is not the first time the National Basketball Association (NBA) in recent years. NBA athletes have expressed political views starting with the Trayvon Martin protest by NBA athletes and continued through Colin Kaepernick and now Hong Kong. 

Morey’s comments about the protest have received a surprising amount of backlash from the NBA, China and his team. Players in the NBA have also commented on the situation. 

“I don’t want to get into a [verbal] feud with Daryl Morey, but I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand, and he spoke,” NBA superstar LeBron James said to ESPN. I believe he was either misinformed or not really educated on the situation, and if he was, then so be it.”

Morey tweeted a photo saying, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong”. While the NBA has expressed that they respect Morey’s freedom of speech, they do not stand by his beliefs. 

For a league that has expressed many beliefs of equality and freedom before, at first glance, it is confusing that the NBA would have a problem with this tweet. Looking deeper into the problem it can be seen that the NBA is upset because of the large amounts of money they will be losing because of this tweet. 

This is unacceptable behavior from the NBA and its players. The league is being hypocritical and going against the beliefs it set around the time current commissioner Adam Silver took over. In particular, LeBron James should have a better understanding of the league’s importance of voicing opinions on controversial topics since he’s done it so many times. 

Morey did nothing wrong. In fact, Morey is standing behind the American principle of freedom that Hong Kong is protesting for. The NBA is trying to silence Morey just so they can continue to make a profit off the Chinese market. China makes up a big portion of the NBA’s target market, and the Rockets are actually the most popular team in China thanks to Hall of Famer and long-time rocket Yao Ming, who also serves as the NBA’s ambassador to China. 

Morey has been unfairly turned into a villain in the situation, as his league, owners, peers, and players have all opposed him in this controversy. The league even went out of their way to issue an apology for Morey’s actions to China saying they extremely disappointed with him.

This is a situation that is the opposite of what has been seen from the league. The NBA is the most progressive professional sports league in the United States yet is greedy and unfair to Morey. The NBA is changing what they stand for to make a profit and they aren’t getting enough heat for that. If you are going to encourage your league and its members to stand up for what they believe in, then you should back them up, and the NBA has not done that. They have singled out Morey’s opposition and separated him from the league while refusing to stand up to the oppressive Chinese government. 

The Hong Kong protest has taken a toll on the NBA and its reputation. Morey was just voicing his support for an oppressed group of people and the NBA attempted to silence him for profit. 

This will be remembered by many as a failure by the NBA to honor the freedom of speech of a member in its community.  As Hong Kong continues to struggle, people will remember that the NBA doesn’t care about the freedoms of the Chinese people.

People will remember that the NBA only cares about the money they profit from them.