Oct 7, 2019

Sen. Josh Hawley calls on NBA to cancel exhibition games in China

Josh Hawley. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver condemning the league's decision to apologize to the Chinese government for a tweet by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey that expressed support for pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong.

"I write today to express my disgust about the position of the National Basketball Association (NBA) with respect to Hong Kong and the freedom of the Chinese people. Doing business in China is one thing, but for the NBA to kowtow to the demands of one of the world's most brutal regimes in the pursuit of profit is, frankly, revolting. You know better. And the people of this country deserve better."

The big picture: Hawley is one of a number of high-profile politicians and commentators who have directed criticism toward the notably progressive NBA after Silver issued a statement saying that the league recognizes Morey's comments "have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable."

  • The Chinese government, the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and multiple Chinese businesses have severed ties with the Rockets as a result of the tweet.
  • Hawley called on the NBA to apologize to Morey and "cancel all exhibition games in China pending a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Hong Kong."
"Remember that some things are more important than money. Remember your responsibility. You may not think of your league as an American undertaking, but whatever you think, what you say and do represents America to the world. "

Go deeper: The NBA's geopolitical crisis with China started by a single tweet

Go deeper

The NBA faces a geopolitical crisis with China over a single tweet

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A single tweet from Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey escalated into a geopolitical crisis over the weekend, pitting America's democratic ideals and the NBA's progressive brand against the influence of Chinese money.

The backdrop: On Friday night, Morey tweeted an image that read "Fight for Freedom. Stand for Hong Kong" in reference to the pro-democracy protests that have been going on there for months.

Go deeperArrowOct 7, 2019

Major Nike stores in China no longer selling Houston Rockets gear

A Chinese flag is seen placed on merchandise in the NBA flagship retail store this week in Beijing, China. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Merchandise from the NBA's Houston Rockets has been pulled from several Nike stores in China in the wake of a controversy over a tweet by Rockets general manager Daryl Morey in support of anti-government protests in Hong Kong, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: China is Nike's top source of revenue growth, per Reuters. The Houston Rockets have an especially large following in China thanks to the success of Yao Ming, a former Rockets player who now heads the China Basketball Association.

Go deeperArrowOct 10, 2019

America strikes back against China's censorship

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

An NBA GM has done a better job of alerting the U.S. to the China threat than any politician.

Why it matters: Millions of Americans appear to be realizing the power and breadth of China's ability to censor and control on a worldwide scale.

Go deeperArrowOct 8, 2019