More than a dozen National Basketball Association stars may soon be facing off against a formidable new opponent: Congress. Some Republicans are demanding that NBA players sever endorsement contracts with Chinese sportswear firms Anta and Li-Ning whose cotton supply chains are implicated in forced labor in China’s Xinjiang province. The Trump administration banned imports of Xinjiang cotton and products containing it in January. “Americans can’t and shouldn’t conduct business with companies and players that profit through human slavery,” Rep. Scott Perry (R-Penn.) told POLITICO. “And that includes NBA players — they can’t sign endorsement deals and benefit off slave labor.”
All that is bad news for NBA stars, including Miami Heat forward Jimmy Butler, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Klay Thompson, shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors, who have lucrative contracts with Li-Ning or Anta. Retired Miami Heat star and part-owner of the Utah Jazz, Dwyane Wade, inked a lifetime endorsement deal with Li-Ning in 2018. Neither Wade nor 13 current NBA players with Li-Ning or Anta endorsements responded to POLITICO requests for comment.
A few hours ago 15 CBA teams out of 20 released a joint statement saying that they are in favor of returning to the home/away format and playin the season without foreigners. Five clubs, Beijing Ducks/Qingdao/Guangzhou/Fujian/Ningbo (a new teams) want to have foreign players. If the season will have foreigners, it is likely that will be played in one or more bubbles to avoid the spread of covid.19
Fourteen-year-old Zhang Ziyu has taken the internet by storm in a viral video of her playing basketball, towering over her teammates. The 7-foot-4 prodigy from East China’s Shandong Province became a trending topic Thursday as she helped her team win a title during a competition held in Jingzhou, scoring 42 points, with 25 rebounds and six blocks. Zhang quickly drew comparisons to former NBA star and Chinese basketball player Yao Ming, who is 7-foot-6. According to the Global Times, Zhang was 5-foot-2 when she was in the first grade and 6-foot-9 by the sixth grade.
The league has continued to seize the opportunity, taking their pre-season games abroad, signing international contracts with networks including China’s Tencent, and expanding its social media presence, where nearly 70% of their followers are outside of the U.S. “Our business around the world continues to grow, which fuels talent from all those parts of the world into our league, which makes the league that much more attractive to our fans on a global basis,” Tatum said.
Although Silver defended Morey’s freedom of speech and resisted pressure from the Chinese government to fire him, Silver stressed that Morey’s views did not reflect the NBA’s. “It certainly doesn’t mean that we are blessing everything that happens in China by any means. We are at root an American company, and so we follow U.S. government policy,” Silver said. “But it’s my expectation that we will continue to distribute our games in China through their service, Tencent, and others, and that we can play a productive role in helping the people of the United States and the people of China have a better understanding of each other, and see that we’re all human beings and that there is commonality between us.”