The NBA makes a lot of money in China.
For all of the league’s pandering and virtue-signaling regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, players and officials have refused to stand with the people living and dying under China’s oppressive communist regime.
Some of those people are reportedly being treated as actual slaves.
Many others are probably being paid nominal wages to make American sneakers for the NBA at this exact moment.
China is a cash cow for the NBA, so at the very least the league is unwilling to criticize the country’s government for its human rights abuses.
Players, coaches and owners, though, have few reservations about engaging in political activism and aligning with the Black Lives Matter movement in the U.S.
In fact, many players intend to wear social justice slogans on their jerseys when the NBA season resumes in its Florida bubble on July 30.
They count on you to watch and support them.
They don’t care whether you like their politics, either.
But the league, which was embroiled in controversy last fall when one NBA executive was brazen enough to voice his support for the freedom of those living in Hong Kong, still has a China problem.
One of its most vocal personalities, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, was called out for it during an online dispute with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on Monday.
The spat began when conservative Texas talk show host Mark Davis wrote on Twitter that he would not watch Mavericks games if the league’s players refuse to stand for the national anthem.
Davis wrote that he was excited about the continuation of the season, which was suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic in March, but added that “the minute one player kneels during the anthem, I am OUT.”
“Surely @mcuban can lead the way for #Mavs, #NBA to do whatever gesture they wish without insulting the nation,” he wrote.
Cuban, apparently showing little concern for the fandom of Davis, replied with a simple “Bye.”
“The National Anthem Police in this country are out of control. If you want to complain, complain to your boss and ask why they don’t play the National Anthem every day before you start work,” he wrote in another response to Davis.
That was when Cruz, one of China’s most prominent critics, entered the conversation.
“Really??!? NBA is telling everyone who stands for the flag, who honors our cops and our veterans, to ‘piss off’? In Texas, no less? Good luck with that,” Cruz wrote.
“Actually, we begin every day in the Senate with a prayer & the Pledge of Allegiance,” Cruz wrote in another response to Cuban’s comment about “The National Anthem Police.”
“Because our boss told us to,” the Texas Republican added.
Cuban fired back, though, and accused Cruz of not having a backbone, to put it kindly.
“Have some balls for once @tedcruz. Speak to me. It’s my tweet,” the billionaire wrote.
Cruz, a self-described Houston Rockets fan, stated he is proud of the season the team in Dallas was having prior to the season suspension, but then he laid down the hammer on Cuban.
“Speaking of balls, tell us what you think about China,” Cruz wrote. “I’ll wait.”
After a prolonged silence from Cuban, Cruz again hit the “Shark Tank” co-star hard.
“Still no answer from @mcuban Let’s try simpler. Mark, tough guy, can you say ‘Free Hong Kong’?” Crux wrote.
“Can your players put that on their jerseys? Can you condemn the CCP’s concentration camps w/ 1 million Uyghurs? Can you say ANYTHING other than ‘Chairman Mao is beautiful & wise’?” the senator tweeted.
Cuban finally acknowledged the tweet, but he danced around the subject like Dallas guard Luka Doncic on the way to the rim.
What a cop-out.
Cruz issued another response, this time obliterating the Dallas Mavericks owner.
“I agree Black Lives Matter. I agree there is a pandemic & we have taken extraordinary steps to defeat it,” Cruz wrote.
“Where did that pandemic originate?” he asked. “Why did Communist China COVER UP the Wuhan outbreak & arrest whistle-blowers? And why are you terrified to say ONE WORD about China?” Cruz added.
The NBA is China’s most popular sports league.
Cuban, who avoided criticizing the Chinese government last year after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey signaled his support for protesters demanding freedom from China in Hong Kong, will not utter a negative word about the apparent genocide going on in the country.
“There’s just no reason to get in the domestic policy of foreign countries,” Cuban told CNBC in October 2019.
Nine months later, as he and other NBA stars and executives blast American culture with divisive statements, the billionaire still won’t offer a critique of China, even as the country is accused of holding more than 1 million Uighur Muslims in concentration camps.
The NBA is heavy on virtue-signaling, but the league and its prominent voices lack any real virtue.
The league will use alleged widespread American police brutality to turn its courts into a soapbox for social justice.
But calling for an end to slavery in a place where its brand is profitable is apparently a bridge too far for the NBA.