Hong Kong Rumors
American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the complaints.
The NBA ran into myriad problems by opening one of the academies in Xinjiang, a police state in western China where more than a million Uighur Muslims are now held in barbed-wire camps. American coaches were frequently harassed and surveilled in Xinjiang, the sources said. One American coach was detained three times without cause; he and others were unable to obtain housing because of their status as foreigners.
A former league employee compared the atmosphere when he worked in Xinjiang to “World War II Germany.” In an interview with ESPN about its findings, NBA deputy commissioner and chief operating officer Mark Tatum, who oversees international operations, said the NBA is “reevaluating” and “considering other opportunities” for the academy program, which operates out of sports facilities run by the Chinese government. Last week, the league acknowledged for the first time it had closed the Xinjiang academy, but, when pressed, Tatum declined to say whether human rights were a factor.
Senator Ted Cruz is doubling down on his attack of Mark Cuban and the NBA — claiming the league SAYS it’s all about social justice … until it comes to China. “When it comes to communist China, [the NBA makes] a crap ton of money from China so they silence everybody,” Cruz said … “They’re not willing to say a word.” Cruz is referring to the NBA’s 2019 dust-up with China — when the country blackballed the league because Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey dared to tweet support for protestors in Hong Kong. Cruz thinks the NBA doesn’t really care about freedom or free speech — because its leadership and top players have not publicly criticized the injustice in China the same way they’ve rallied together for social issues in the U.S. “Show me an NBA player who’s allowed to put ‘Tiananmen Square’ on the back of his jersey, then I’ll be impressed with their commitment to free speech.”
Cruz says Cuban’s decision to stick up for his players — while dismissing fans who are offended by the anthem protests — is wrong and disrespectful. “The answer is for the NBA to show one, one-billionth of the spinal fortitude they show kissing up to and apologizing for communist China.” Cruz — wearing a Houston Rockets mask — also said straight-up the anthem kneeling protests are disrespectful to police and military members … despite people like Colin Kaepernick explaining it’s only meant to spotlight social injustice and police brutality.
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., slammed the NBA for pulling custom gear from its online store following the backlash the league received for blocking “Free Hong Kong” to be printed on its apparel. On Monday, the NBA was swept into controversy after a viral video showed that the online store could not process orders that used the text “FreeHongKong.” Hours later, the store’s operator Fanatics reversed what it suggested was a technical error that prompted the phrase to be “inadvertently prohibited.”