NBA’s Irving Focused on ‘Oppression Going On in America,’ Not China

Kyrie Irving
Getty Images/Adam Glanzman

Brooklyn Nets player Kyrie Irving feels there’s “enough oppression going on in America” that needs to be focused on, when asked about the NBA-China ordeal.

The NBA is in hot water with the Chinese Communist Party after Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey recently tweeted, “Fight for Freedom, Stand with Hong Kong.” The tweet has since been deleted.

Protests against the Chinese government have taken place in Hong Kong since June. They started due to a proposal to extradite criminal suspects to Mainland China, something the protesters fear might damage the city’s judicial sovereignty.

Morey’s tweet led to tension between the NBA and China during recent exhibition games held in that country. The NBA and China have a lot of business deals, some of which might be in jeopardy on the heels of Morey’s tweet.

Irving feels NBA players should focus on fixing issues in the United States.

“I understand Hong Kong and China is dealing with their issues, respectively,” Irving said. “But there’s enough oppression going on in America for me not to be involved in the community issues here as well. That’s one of those four pillars that goes in terms of the black community, colored people here still in America: We’re fighting for everyday freedoms.

“I stand for four [pillars]: inner peace, freedom, equality and world peace, man.”

Irving didn’t specify what “oppression going on in America” he was referring to, or which “everyday freedoms” are being denied.

The Nets are owned by Taiwanese-born billionaire Joe Tsai, who has business dealings with the Chinese government, and recently stated, “1.4 billion Chinese citizens stand united when it comes to the territorial integrity of China and the country’s sovereignty over her homeland. This issue is non-negotiable.”

Hong Kong was a British colony until 1997 when it became part of China. While Hong Kong is part of China, they have more autonomy than other parts of the country, but many residents fear that changing, and this has contributed to some of the protests.

The protests spread to a Nets preseason game on Friday at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, with some fans wearing shirts reading “Stand with Hong Kong,” and chanting of “Shame on Joe Tsai!” There were also signs on display reading “Morey or Money?” A number of the protesters wore masks to protect their identities from the Chinese government.

What did Irving think of these protests at the Nets’ game?

“When I think about Hong Kong and China, the people are in an uproar,” Irving said. “And for us as Americans to comment on it, African Americans or American Indians to comment on that, you’re connected nonetheless, especially when it impacts freedoms or world peace. So for me as an individual I stand up for those four pillars. And when they’re being conflicted I can understand why protestors come to the games.”

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