Joshua Wong is the Secretary General of Demonsisto. This is the largest Freedom fighting organization in Hong Kong. If you don’t know what’s going on in Hong Kong by now you probably at least know there is a ton of protests and riots.
In 1984 a 50 year treaty was signed between Britain and China that basically gave Hong Kong the liberty to run its own free market and democracy, while being basically a subsidiary of China. In the news they call it the “1 country 2 systems approach”. And as of 2020 this treaty has 14 years remaining.
But, as the Chinese Communist Party has begun to restrict much of the freedoms that Hong Kong was rightfully given, chaos broke out in the streets. The people are fighting for democracy and basic human rights.
For example, in the US, you can disagree with the act of kneeling for the national anthem, but you can’t argue with the fact that someone has the right to do it. In China, and now HK, it is a crime to disrespect the Chinese national anthem.
As of just about 2 weeks ago, the United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that the United States will no longer acknowledge Hong Kong as autonomous of mainland China. This is a big, global development.
How is the NBA and Lebron Involved?
Back in October last year, general manager of the Houston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted out in support of these freedom fighters. Apparently that was a huge mistake. In a league that prides itself on its players’ willingness and ability to speak out against injustices, Morey simply tweeting out pro-democracy views was a big no no.
China, if not the NBA’s largest market, did not like this statement at all. They immediately began to censor what was then just the NBA’s preseason. They threatened to black out all NBA content in the country. It showed just how powerful the Chinese government really was. Adam Silver needed to issue a statement that Morey’s views didn’t reflect “the NBA or Rockets fans”.
Prominent players and coaches, who are first in line to speak out on US politics, played dumb. Coaches like Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich refused to acknowledge what was even happening in Hong Kong.
The most notable person to speak on it was the biggest star in the league, Lebron James. He came out strong against Morey’s support of the protests. He called Morey “misinformed” but didn’t really say how.
The only rational explanation of this was the financial impact that hits the NBA if China is no longer a viable market. The NBA is probably the second biggest global sport, behind soccer. So, if they miss out on that 1.2billion person market in China then that loss of money will ultimately fall back on the players. I understand Lebron’s point in that respect.
But this goes back to one of the NBA’s goals as an organization. They pride themselves in speaking out for what is right and player’s are not afraid to protest during games. Rightfully so. But what is different about this one? Well I think the most glaring answer is that this view is bad for business.
Lebron James isn’t scared to call Donald Trump a bum, and he refuses to shut up and dribble. And that’s something that I actually like about him. He has a huge platform and speaks about what he feels is right. He should want to give his opinions on issues if he wants to. But what does it say when he won’t apply these beliefs to everyone across the world? Shouldn’t everyone be held to the same standards?
Bravery isn’t brave if it doesn’t risk something that is important to you. It’s not brave if it’s financially beneficial. Muhammad Ali risked a lot more protesting the Vietnam War than Lebron. Colin Kaepernick risked a lot more taking a knee than Lebron. Apparently Daryl Morey risked a lot more tweeting than Lebron.
I think it’s important that this is noted when we look at the legacy of Lebron James. When he takes stands that are politically correct and help him build a strong global brand, that doesn’t mean that it helps those who might really look up to him as a leader.
He chose profits over beliefs and that can’t go unnoticed. They haven’t forgotten that in Hong Kong, and we should remember that here. I guess communists buy sneakers too.
I want to put it out that I stand with the Hong Kong protestors and believe in the (re)liberation of Hong Kong!
Again, freedom will prevail, but it’s up to us to pave that path. Donate to democracy here.
Cheers and stay safe.