Houston Rockets Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey made headlines in October when he expressed his support for Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters via Twitter.
As a result, the Chinese leagues, streaming services, sponsors and partners cut ties with the Rockets and the NBA.
The timing for Morey’s tweets wasn’t the best.
For those keeping score at home: The NBA had a whole International trip to China scheduled where the Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Lakers were scheduled to play a series of exhibition games.
“The NBA, the NBA Commissioner… Stern, now Adam Silver, the whole ecosystem of the league is equally more progressive than any other major sports league in America,” veteran sportscaster, Bob Costas stated Monday while speaking at Seton Hall University in South Orange, New Jersey.
“But I will say this, I would say that they still haven’t satisfied me in their response, or no one has held them to an account about their story and at first they fumbled, but they said, ‘we stand by all of our players and their right to free speech.’ That’s a core value of the NBA and that’s as far as it went, they weren’t pushed any further. But that comes fairly close to the famous Voltaire statement, ‘I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ But what, you can debate whether it does anybody any good, if it’s any random thought on Twitter (which is just a high tech version of a bathroom wall). So positively influencing what was going on with…in Hong Kong with his tweet. But nevertheless, if free speech is a core value of American democracy, and therefore of the NBA, so too is human rights. Basic human rights. So, not only in this case… not only did Daryl Morey have the right, but how was he not right? And Adam Silver, and no one else in the NBA, has said that forthrightly. So, I would rather have them say, “look it’s a complicated world, we have economic involvements with nations and entities across the spectrum.”
Many have been critical of Morey’s decision to tweet his own thoughts.
Insert Los Angeles Lakers All-Star, LeBron James.
“I don’t want to get in a word or sentence feud with Daryl Morey,” said James.
“But I believe he wasn’t educated on the situation at hand and he spoke. So many people could have been harmed, not only physically or financially, but emotionally and spiritually. Just be careful what we tweet, what we say and what we do. We do have freedom of speech, but there can be a lot of negative things that come with that too.”
Bob Costas sees the overall value and keys in on Russia’s relationship with other sports. “I mean Russia provides all kinds of players for the NHL, there’s no problem with that,” he told the event’s host, retired ESPN legend, Bob Ley.
“We don’t have to think that Vladimir Putin is a good buy for being friends with Alex… We understand that. So, “China is a huge market for the NBA, we’re in that market, but we will affirmably state that we don’t approve policies that suppress human rights. And, in fact, China is one of the biggest human rights violator not the planet”. I would put that that they say that, but they haven’t.”