CHINA: MAKING THE NBA JUMP THROUGH POLITICAL HOOPS

TAYLOR BOSVELD WRITES — It is no secret that China is continuing to grow its influence on the world stage, yet who would think that one of the most culturally impactful institutions in the United States is the National Basketball Association? And what’s the relationship between China and the NBA?

The dynamic between China and the NBA was strained when, in October of 2019, Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for the protests taking place in Hong Kong. This did not settle well with the Chinese government, so the NBA games were subsequently made unavailable on all media outlets in the country, which resulted in a ratings drop for NBA basketball games. According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver as reported by Sports Illustrated, “we were being asked to fire him, by the Chinese government, by the parties we dealt with in government and business. We said there’s no chance that’s happening. There’s no chance we’ll even discipline him.” This adversarial situation created major complications for the NBA, as a majority of its international viewership comes from China.

This conflict begs the question as to just how much influence China has with the NBA. Adam Silver has made it clear that the NBA is an American business that supports freedom of expression and speech, but to what extent? Daryl Morey did eventually delete his tweets that supported Hong Kong, which goes against what Adam Silver stated.

The NBA has since repaired its relationship with the Chinese government, but this begs another question:  Just how much influence does China have on American culture and society? And, since China wants to continue its quest to become the most powerful nation in the world, wouldn’t it be smart to use influences like sports or media? How should the United States respond?

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