October 12, 2019
One tweet is all it takes nowadays.
It’s even a retweet, technically, although social media etiquette dictates that what you retweet or share, you agree with unless the caption says otherwise.
The biggest totalitarian regime in the world does not take things lightly, and they do not tolerate dissent — not just among their citizens but also among their business partners — or practically anyone they can bully. This is not news to us.
But for the once mighty America, it’s strange for it that its sports spectacle — one of the biggest symbols of capitalist/democratic success, will bow down to a Communist regime.
Second sport no more
For most countries, basketball is their second most popular sport. For the majority in Europe, Asia and South America, football — or soccer to the Americans and Filipinos, is the number one sport. In the US, it’s NFL — their own version of football.
Basketball is the world’s second most popular sport, but its rise in China may change all that. China’s population, coupled with the dictatorship, makes it a game-changer, for better or for worse. Mandarin is the language with the most native speakers, and it has gained even more learners because many people feel the need to understand it. Nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd.
So, if basketball continues to rise in China, they can push it to become the world’s most popular sport, and that’s awesome for the NBA.
Marco Polo of the NBA
The Houston Rockets are the Marco Polo of the NBA — being the first to invest heavily in the Chinese basketball program because they had the draft rights to Yao Ming. Part of the condition for his release was the Rockets’ investing in China’s basketball program, including building a basketball academy.
The Rockets also rebranded — changing their uniform design, adapting a Chinese-based logo and color scheme. It’s ironic (destined?) that the entire fracas had to start from the GM of this particular team.
On to the burning questions:
After resisting the “shut up and dribble” remark by pro-Trump supporters, why are the NBA players and the organization itself suddenly encouraging silence among the players? The latest of which was how CNN reporter Christina McFarlane, who smartly rephrased her question to dodge the China restriction, still had her question rebuked and unanswered by Houston Rockets representatives.
Why are the NBA players so brave with Trump but so cautious with Xi Jinping?
The statement by Joe Tsai of the Brooklyn Nets gave historical context to the Hong Kong protests, and why mainland China has the rights to Hong Kong. Are the Hong Kong protestors justified? Are they worthy of international support in any form?
It should be noted that the original cause of the protests was the Extradition Bill — which has already been rescinded. But the protests did not stop, and has evolved into an outright separatist movement. Is this a case of China giving up their hand but now the protestors want their arm?
Salary cap impact
A few superstar visits, some exhibition games and a lot of greetings — that’s how the NBA thanks its Chinese fans. Now that they stand to lose it, they realize just how significant it is. The millions in signed contracts may totally cripple a team if the salary cap is reduced — which is almost inevitable if China pulls out. How many teams can stay afloat? Will the NBA place a moratorium on the luxury tax policy (since lowering the cap will render most of them susceptible to the luxury tax penalty)?
What’s in it for us?
The Filipino basketball fan will mostly remain unfazed, depending on how much emotional investment he chooses to allot on this issue. Some might judge their idols, but they are also beholden to their contractors (shoe companies are at the top here). They may already have gag orders incorporated in their contracts.
But the next time James Harden seeks to rally for a cause, no self-respecting fan would follow him. The apology sounded like a lame duck move — probably because it was.
The games will continue for this season, but the future, as of now, is in the red.
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