2019 Rockets: China Hates Us

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
45,876
Surprised no one was talking about this already, so I thought I might as well start a Rockets thread...

As if this team didn't have enough issues trying to integrate the seemingly incompatible Harden and Westbrook, now Daryl Morey's job is actually in danger because of a tweet he made supporting Hong Kong independence on Friday night.

 

jon abbey

Shanghai Warrior
Dope
SoSH Member
Jul 15, 2005
45,876
OK, not much there, I will just leave it in both places.
 

ElUno20

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
3,597
Ive though about Balmer offering him some obscene number to come and join the clipps. There's no cap on front office pay.

Wizards or Lakers is my guess.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
Is Morey normally a politically outspoken guy? This issue seems like a really odd choice for the public face of the Houston Rockets to speak up about.

He knows the Rockets do tens of millions of dollars of business in China. Unless he is really, really passionate about Hong Kong, or wanted to get fired, I don't know why he'd risk his job to post that.

(Not that I disagree with the sentiment expressed).
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
7,811
What Morey said wasn't wrong, so it would be pathetic if the Rockets and the NBA felt "forced" to fire him.
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
4,692
Somerville, MA
This is particularly interesting when juxtaposed with the position the NBA has taken with regards to Enes Kanter and his opposition to the Turkish government. While there are differences in the exact tactics employed by Turkey and China, both are repressive, authoritarian regimes that regularly jail or kill people who present opposition the political party in power. So I think it's fair to say that the only real difference here is the volume of revenue the NBA has generated and wants to continue to generate from China. I will say, it would be really interesting if something like this ends up becoming a major turning point for how average US citizens view China, but given the way NBA leadership seems to be leaning, and the comments from other players to this point (James Harden), I wonder if the cracks in the dam are repaired and nothing further happens.

I don't know if this is the right avenue for this, because maybe this is a little to V&N-esque, but this is a major danger for companies that want to continue to do business in China in the future. From the NY Times, China's social credit program for businesses is threatening to reduce the score for foreign airlines that refuse to label Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau as part of China. So we're talking about the Chinese government literally reducing a score that is used to guide citizens towards or away from businesses because of the language that is used. 1984 was just 35 years too early.

It feels an awful lot like we're at a critical juncture where companies and individuals have to make a decision as to which way they want to go on this, because as China's influence grows, there won't be much choice at all. I think one of the key balances that needs to somehow be struck is differentiating between the Chinese government, which is pushing this, and Chinese citizens, both abroad and domestic, who could very easily end up on the wrong end of racist views for actions that have nothing to do with them.
 

Ale Xander

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 31, 2013
22,812
Maybe Yao Ming can broker a peace between all the parties?

If anyone can, it's probably him.
 

ifmanis5

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 29, 2007
34,952
Rotten Apple
The NBA has enjoyed a great rep lately for being progressive but not one player with a big shoe deal will say anything about this and Adam Silver already capitulated. If Goodell did this we'd give him grief so Adam deserves the same. Pathetic.
 

Big John

lurker
Dec 9, 2016
1,791
The NBA's response to China has been very disappointing. I realize that billions of dollars are at risk, but there must be a way of supporting human rights and a just resolution of the situation in HK without severing the relationship with China. Instead, the NBA appears to be in complete capitulation mode.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
Huh? Is Yao Ming able to stop what's happening in Hong Kong.

This was Silver's first true test and he has handled it terribly.
I would say that the blatant racism of a longtime owner being exposed was also a real test, and he nailed that one.

As the commissioner of the league, he probably played the percentages correctly on this one, even if it doesn't look like a profile in courage. Probably 95% of Americans agree with the sentiment in the tweet, but care very little about Hong Kong in general. Meanwhile 100% of Chinese partners feel the opposite way, and feel very strongly (as mandated by their government). So, the league immediately supports China and apologizes profusely. People in America tut tut for a few days and then go back to being upset about Trump's next tweet or the big missed call in the NFL game.

I'm not sure what better play there was for Silver here, pragmatically speaking.
 

axx

lurker
Jul 16, 2005
6,308
The NBA's response to China has been very disappointing. I realize that billions of dollars are at risk, but there must be a way of supporting human rights and a just resolution of the situation in HK without severing the relationship with China. Instead, the NBA appears to be in complete capitulation mode.
China's the one country that gets what it wants.
 

TheDeuce222

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 19, 2005
366
Huh? Is Yao Ming able to stop what's happening in Hong Kong.

This was Silver's first true test and he has handled it terribly.
Don't disagree that the NBA's response has been very disappointing, but I think the Sterling affair was a pretty big test and Silver handled it brilliantly. This is a tough situation because you can be sure that the majority of owners at large are fearing huge economic consequences and putting tons of pressure on the league to act swiftly to denounce Morey.

Edit (or what Captaincoop said more eloquently above).
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
The NBA's response to China has been very disappointing. I realize that billions of dollars are at risk, but there must be a way of supporting human rights and a just resolution of the situation in HK without severing the relationship with China. Instead, the NBA appears to be in complete capitulation mode.
What would that way look like? There's no middle ground with China on Hong Kong.
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
4,692
Somerville, MA
I'm not sure what better play there was for Silver here, pragmatically speaking.
The play is to realize that if it starts with an inability of people in your organization to advocate for human rights, then you have voluntarily given up your own rights as well to make a few dollars. Is it the right move from a business perspective in the short-to-intermediate term? Sure, the cash will keep flowing. But it enables crappy behavior by the Chinese government, and in doing so, gives an authoritarian government the ability to shape its message far beyond its own borders and continue to grow its influence.

Do I think the NBA would be willing to actually take the hit on this and go against China? Hell no. But that doesn't make this disappointing nonetheless.
 

lexrageorge

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 31, 2007
7,811
Silver could have made a statement that while the NBA welcomes its strong relationship with China, it also welcomes dissenting views from among its employees, even when those views do not represent the views of the NBA.

Not good enough for the China apologists, but at least would have made a stand against its executives and players being bullied.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
The play is to realize that if it starts with an inability of people in your organization to advocate for human rights, then you have voluntarily given up your own rights as well to make a few dollars. Is it the right move from a business perspective in the short-to-intermediate term? Sure, the cash will keep flowing. But it enables crappy behavior by the Chinese government, and in doing so, gives an authoritarian government the ability to shape its message far beyond its own borders and continue to grow its influence.

Do I think the NBA would be willing to actually take the hit on this and go against China? Hell no. But that doesn't make this disappointing nonetheless.
Adam Silver works for the NBA owners. He's making millions of dollars a year to do their bidding and keep the league profitable. When you're the guy making millions in that spot, you do what's best for the league, not become a freelance political agitator.

This is all why these leagues should stay clear of politics in general. Because once you take positions on some things, you risk looking like massive hypocrites when money forces you to eat your principles on other issues.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
Silver could have made a statement that while the NBA welcomes its strong relationship with China, it also welcomes dissenting views from among its employees, even when those views do not represent the views of the NBA.

Not good enough for the China apologists, but at least would have made a stand against its executives and players being bullied.
The NBA would have done that if it thought for a second that statement would satisfy their partners in China, but it would not. If you're going to say that, you might as well double down on the tweet and come out in support of the protestors. Same effect.
 

IdiotKicker

Member
SoSH Member
Nov 21, 2005
4,692
Somerville, MA
Adam Silver works for the NBA owners. He's making millions of dollars a year to do their bidding and keep the league profitable. When you're the guy making millions in that spot, you do what's best for the league, not become a freelance political agitator.

This is all why these leagues should stay clear of politics in general. Because once you take positions on some things, you risk looking like massive hypocrites when money forces you to eat your principles on other issues.
I'm not really suggesting that Silver become a "freelance political agitator". I'm suggesting that while I wished the NBA (owners, Silver, and players) would use their platform in the same way they've used it in the Erdogan-Kanter situation, the dollars unfortunately mean that they were swayed the other way here. And that's disappointing to me, because as more companies give into China's demands in order to gain access to the massive market there, in enables an authoritarian regime to propogate authoritarian characteristics overseas.

People and organizations cannot simply "stay clear of politics". The politics exist, whether one chooses to acknowledge them or not. If the GM of the Houston Rockets is unable to speak his mind on an issue that involves the fundamental human rights of millions of people, what does it say for our ability in the future to do the same thing as far less powerful individuals?
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
I'm not really suggesting that Silver become a "freelance political agitator". I'm suggesting that while I wished the NBA (owners, Silver, and players) would use their platform in the same way they've used it in the Erdogan-Kanter situation, the dollars unfortunately mean that they were swayed the other way here. And that's disappointing to me, because as more companies give into China's demands in order to gain access to the massive market there, in enables an authoritarian regime to propogate authoritarian characteristics overseas.

People and organizations cannot simply "stay clear of politics". The politics exist, whether one chooses to acknowledge them or not. If the GM of the Houston Rockets is unable to speak his mind on an issue that involves the fundamental human rights of millions of people, what does it say for our ability in the future to do the same thing as far less powerful individuals?
That we're screwed. Welcome to 2019.

edit: to be less flippant...of course Daryl Morey can speak his mind on the issue. Or he can continue to work for the Houston Rockets. It's his choice. Everyone who works in any kind of public-facing position has to make these choices, whether they acknowledge it or not. But expecting businesses to make decisions on social or political issues that harm their bottom line would be naive. If all of America were threatening to stop buying sneakers and season tickets if the NBA didn't support the protestors, then the calculus on this issue would change. If the NBA acknowledged that it is a business and stayed out of all social and political issues, then it would be easier to swallow that they are following the money here. The owners and commissioner look like hypocrites because they have taken social and political stands in the past when it didn't cost them anything.
 
Last edited:

P'tucket rhymes with...

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 12, 2006
10,430
The Coney Island of my mind
This is all why these leagues should stay clear of politics in general. Because once you take positions on some things, you risk looking like massive hypocrites when money forces you to eat your principles on other issues.
The NBA decided long ago that any abstract "principles" they might profess to hold aren't worth the cash attached to two billion potential fans. Morey didn't point out the abrupt emergence of an authoritarian regime in China; his crime is highlighting that the league has long been ass-deep in "massive hypocrisy" by saying the quiet part out loud.

Professional sportsball teams Cannot. Stay, Clear. Of. Politics.
 

P'tucket rhymes with...

Member
SoSH Member
Dec 12, 2006
10,430
The Coney Island of my mind
You can do whatever weird punctuation you want, but they can.
Unless you live in sparkle pony land, you really, really can't. The NBA deeply appreciates your willingness to suspend your critical thinking capacities, however.
That’s what makes the response from the league so crazy-making. It’s all been tuned in a way that makes it seem as if Morey’s crime was wounding Chinese basketball fans all over the world, when in fact all he really did that was damaging to the league was piss off a group of extremely rich and powerful people who are committed to denying the civil liberties of those living in Hong Kong. In this way, the NBA has participated in its own kind of disinformation campaign, muddying up a rather straightforward set of actions and consequences in a way that’s meant only to provide personal satisfaction to the rich and powerful men that Morey crossed. At least now we know that you actually can put a price tag on the league’s dignity and supposed commitment to free speech.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
I would argue that you're living in fantasy land if you think that a business is going to give up hundreds of millions of dollars in the name of supporting freedom. That's not what businesses do.

I think the NBA looks awful here, but it's not surprising at all that it ended up in this position. If you do business in China, you check any honorable principles you may have at the door.

I mean, quoting from the article...did you not know this already?

"At least now we know that you actually can put a price tag on the league’s dignity and supposed commitment to free speech."
 

OurF'ingCity

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 22, 2016
3,441
New York City
I think what has made people angry at this situation more than anything is that the NBA presents itself as a “progressive” league where players and executives are more free to express dissenting viewpoints - the NYT had a whole piece last week about why this made the NBA a better league than the NFL.

This episode just makes clear that the league’s “progressive” attitudes only apply when there isn’t significant money at stake. Which wouldn’t be a huge deal if it was the NFL or even MLB because those leagues have never really tried to pretend they are anything other than money-generating entertainment machines. It’s only because the NBA under Silver has tried to present itself as something more than that that there is such backlash now.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
I think what has made people angry at this situation more than anything is that the NBA presents itself as a “progressive” league where players and executives are more free to express dissenting viewpoints - the NYT had a whole piece last week about why this made the NBA a better league than the NFL.

This episode just makes clear that the league’s “progressive” attitudes only apply when there isn’t significant money at stake. Which wouldn’t be a huge deal if it was the NFL or even MLB because those leagues have never really tried to pretend they are anything other than money-generating entertainment machines. It’s only because the NBA under Silver has tried to present itself as something more than that that there is such backlash now.
That's what I was trying to say but you said it better.
 

Kliq

Member
SoSH Member
Mar 31, 2013
10,192
I know it doesn't have the same cultural relevancy as it once did, but South Park just had an episode about this last week.
 

Apisith

Member
SoSH Member
Oct 19, 2007
2,348
Bangkok
I think the CCP are going to prove incredibly difficult to defeat in the ideological sphere because most businesses in the West aren't controlled by politicians, unlike in China.
 

mauf

Anderson Cooper x Mr. Rogers
Staff member
Dope
Gold Supporter
NBA front-office executives earn a pittance compared to what the players earn, but they are executives nonetheless. I’m not aware of any business that permits executives to speak freely about matters of public concern and suffer no consequence if their words harm the business.

Morey is too smart to have been naive about this. Either he secretly wanted out of Houston, or he cared so deeply about the situation in Hong Kong that he was willing to put his job at risk over it. Morey’s post hoc groveling won’t save his job, but should pave the way for another club with less of a direct stake in the Chinese market to hire him in a year or two.
 

Captaincoop

Member
SoSH Member
Jul 16, 2005
9,037
Santa Monica, CA
NBA front-office executives earn a pittance compared to what the players earn, but they are executives nonetheless. I’m not aware of any business that permits executives to speak freely about matters of public concern and suffer no consequence if their words harm the business.

Morey is too smart to have been naive about this. Either he secretly wanted out of Houston, or he cared so deeply about the situation in Hong Kong that he was willing to put his job at risk over it. Morey’s post hoc groveling won’t save his job, but should pave the way for another club with less of a direct stake in the Chinese market to hire him in a year or two.
It does not seem possible that he was unaware of the impact of that message. That's why I asked above if he's been politically outspoken in the past. Because otherwise, this is a nifty way to engineer an exit from Houston.

How furious must Lebron be right now? He's on his way to China for what will now have to be an NBA apology/groveling tour.
 

PedroKsBambino

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Member
SoSH Member
Apr 17, 2003
22,018
NBA front-office executives earn a pittance compared to what the players earn, but they are executives nonetheless. I’m not aware of any business that permits executives to speak freely about matters of public concern and suffer no consequence if their words harm the business.

Morey is too smart to have been naive about this. Either he secretly wanted out of Houston, or he cared so deeply about the situation in Hong Kong that he was willing to put his job at risk over it. Morey’s post hoc groveling won’t save his job, but should pave the way for another club with less of a direct stake in the Chinese market to hire him in a year or two.
I don't think the first part of your statement is true (execuctives donate and engage in politics all the time in ways separate from corporate positions, you just don't see much media coverage of it), but I wholly agree on the second part---Morey had to realize this was a likely reaction. I took away he most likely wanted out, but certainly could be instead that he wants the fight/publicity over the issue.
 

OurF'ingCity

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 22, 2016
3,441
New York City
It does not seem possible that he was unaware of the impact of that message. That's why I asked above if he's been politically outspoken in the past. Because otherwise, this is a nifty way to engineer an exit from Houston.

How furious must Lebron be right now? He's on his way to China for what will now have to be an NBA apology/groveling tour.
If he wanted out of Houston he never would have released his obviously ghost-written "apology." He would have refused to apologize and claimed he was merely stating his beliefs in about as innocuous a manner as he could. Then he would have been fired, but at least he could hold his head up and claim a la Kaepernick that he was terminated merely for utilizing his right to free speech - and unlike Kaepernick, he would have become a media darling on BOTH sides of the aisle.

As an aside and at the risk of getting too V&N-y here, the approach to the Hong King/China issue here in the U.S. is fascinating because it is one of the few issues where the central dividing line doesn't seem to be Right vs. Left but rather the political/journalistic class, which by and large has sided with HK, vs. corporate America, which is so tied into China that they have no choice but to either remain silent or actively side with China (see, among other statements, Michael Bloomberg's ridiculous comments from a few weeks ago where he claimed China wasn't a dictatorship and was largely responsive to its "constituents").
 

moondog80

heart is two sizes two small
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
5,196
If he wanted out of Houston he never would have released his obviously ghost-written "apology." He would have refused to apologize and claimed he was merely stating his beliefs in about as innocuous a manner as he could. Then he would have been fired, but at least he could hold his head up and claim a la Kaepernick that he was terminated merely for utilizing his right to free speech - and unlike Kaepernick, he would have become a media darling on BOTH sides of the aisle.
Maybe the apology is so he can get some other job once the team with connections to China (Houston) fires him?
 

Spelunker

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
5,943
It does not seem possible that he was unaware of the impact of that message. That's why I asked above if he's been politically outspoken in the past. Because otherwise, this is a nifty way to engineer an exit from Houston.

How furious must Lebron be right now? He's on his way to China for what will now have to be an NBA apology/groveling tour.
It'll be interesting to see if the *players* fall in with this (other than Harden, of course). As much as the NBA as a league has been painted as more progressive, it's the players that really drive that. LeBron is a great litmus test for what the rest of the league will do: if he plays lapdog to Chinese corporate interests, then no one else will be taking a stand.
 

OurF'ingCity

Member
SoSH Member
Apr 22, 2016
3,441
New York City
It'll be interesting to see if the *players* fall in with this (other than Harden, of course). As much as the NBA as a league has been painted as more progressive, it's the players that really drive that. LeBron is a great litmus test for what the rest of the league will do: if he plays lapdog to Chinese corporate interests, then no one else will be taking a stand.
LeBron probably has as much financial incentive to stay quiet as the NBA teams do. I think it's more likely that, to the extent we get any criticism, we get it from the Jaylen Browns of the world who are relatively politically sophisticated but are too young or not quite good enough to have a ton of endorsements and the like in China.
 

moondog80

heart is two sizes two small
SoSH Member
Sep 20, 2005
5,196
Doesn't every team have connections to China now?
Yes, but the feeling seems to be that Houston does a little moreso?

Or maybe he's counting on the weird logic where the Reds have to trade Aroldis Chapman and the Chiefs have to cut Kareem Hunt, but once that happens they've already been punished so it's OK for the Yankees and Browns to have them?
 

Spelunker

Well-Known Member
Gold Supporter
SoSH Member
Jul 17, 2005
5,943
LeBron probably has as much financial incentive to stay quiet as the NBA teams do. I think it's more likely that, to the extent we get any criticism, we get it from the Jaylen Browns of the world who are relatively politically sophisticated but are too young or not quite good enough to have a ton of endorsements and the like in China.
I think that's why he'd be a good test. He has financial incentive, but he's also been a leader in speaking openly on moral issues. So when those things come into conflict his actions will be telling.