- The Washington Times - Friday, October 18, 2019

The NBA’s commissioner, Adam Silver, acknowledged in recent remarks that China had pressed for the firing of Rockets general manager Daryl Morey — for the crime of publicly supporting freedom-fighting protesters in Hong Kong — and that the league, as part of the fallout from its seeming siding with the reds, rather than with the red, white and blues, has been losing money.

On the first: What the freak. And on the second: Good. Well, the league should.

The controversy started when Morey, on Oct. 4, tweeted a photo of protesters with the caption, “Fight For Freedom. Stand With Hong Kong.”

Seems tame. How American, right?

Communist China didn’t like it.

China, which does big business with the NBA, canceled its scheduled G League exhibition games with teams tied to the Rockets and to the Mavericks; suspended all its NBA programming on its state-run CCTV; and dropped its hosting of NBA Cares events that had been set for Shanghai.

The U.S. response should have been: Bite me, China.

The NBA should have either sided with Morey or kept quiet.

Instead, the NBA tweeted: “We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable. While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them.”

How wishy-washy.

How squishy on freedom.

Then came Los Angeles Lakers LeBron James and his face-slapping weigh-in that went like this: “We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative things that come with that, too.” Translation: Hey, I’ve got a $32 million contract with Nike, and China is a big Nike customer — so shut up about the whole Hong Kong thing, would ya, already?

Go freedom.

Now comes this from Silver — an acknowledgment that not only were the NBA’s communist money men dropping American basketball gigs left and right, but they were also calling for punishment of Morey.

They were also demanding his firing.

“We were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with in government and business,” Silver said, at the TIME 100 Health Summit, Sports Illustrated reported. “We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.”

At least the NBA is taking a clear stand against Communist strong-arming on that one. Too bad it didn’t come on the first issue — the simple pro-freedom tweet.

Maybe then, the NBA wouldn’t be losing money.

“The losses have already been substantial,” Silver said, speaking of the financial fallout from China’s anger at Morey’s tweet. “Our games are not back on the air in China as we speak, and we’ll see what happens next. … The financial consequences have been and may continue to be fairly dramatic.”

That’s as it should be.

An NBA that sides with China’s government over America — over the cause of freedom, over the campaign of human rights — has no business making money in America.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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