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Adam Silver: NBA has ‘no choice but to engage’ with China

TIME 100 Health Summit

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - OCTOBER 17: Commissioner of the NBA, Adam Silver (L) and broadcaster Robin Roberts speak onstage during the TIME 100 Health Summit at Pier 17 on October 17, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Brian Ach/Getty Images for TIME 100 Health Summit )

Getty Images for TIME 100 Health

In the aftermath of China’s heavy-handed response to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters (who are trying to maintain and expand their freedoms), NBA commissioner Adam Silver said “I don’t know where we go from here.”

Not out of China.

Ben Cohen of The Wall Street Journal:

Silver has made a compelling case that the NBA can spread the values it espouses – including free expression – by doing business around the world. Economic relationships foster connection between people.

Of course, continuing to do business in China is also how the NBA maximizes its revenue. That’s more than just convenient.

The NBA does have a chose whether or not to engage in China. It’s a complicated choice. But the league is not beholden to continue doing business there.

It’s questionable how well Silver’s attempts to deescalate are working. Chinese state media said Silver will face retribution for saying China’s government asked for Morey to be fired.

One thing that will help the NBA repair its relationship with Chinese business interests: Everyone around the league seems afraid to address the China-Hong Kong issue. Nobody wants to follow Morey into the center of a geopolitical firestorm and cost the NBA money.

That ought to raise questions about just how the NBA-China is working.