NBA Chief Adam Silver Hopes for ‘Mutual Respect’ Between American, Chinese Values

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During Tuesday’s interview with TIME, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver insisted that he hoped that there could be “mutual respect” for China’s “values.”

Speaking to the TIME 100 Talks interview, Silver tried to address last year’s flap between China and the NBA when Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey posted a tweet expressing support for democracy in the oppressed Chinese territory of Hong Kong.

After the tweet, the government-controlled Chinese basketball sector in China immediately cut ties with the NBA. But instead of siding with democracy for Hong Kong and supporting Daryl Morey’s right to free speech, the NBA moved to excoriate Morey and forced him to apologize to China, one of the most oppressive nations on earth.

During the TIME interview, Silver addressed the flap. Now that nearly a year has passed since Morey innocently posted his tweet, Silver said he thinks the crisis has passed.

“I feel it has,” Silver said when asked if the crisis has passed. “You know, our games are on the Tencent distribution platform in China [the government-controlled sports streamer]. And we’ve continued to dialog with the Chinese, with our business partners there, and in certain cases with certain government officials. And, you know, we’re just going to keep at it.”

“We’ve had a long history in China,” he added, “and certainly this is a bump in the road in our relations. Obviously, I think we all understand each other.”

But then Silver tried to claim that we all should respect China’s “values.”

“You know, as I’ve said before, we come to China with a certain set of core American values and principles,” he insisted. “And I understand also they have a different form of government, and they have a different view of how things have been done, how things should be done. And hopefully, we can find mutual respect for each other.”

Clearly, that process of developing “mutual respect for each other” consists of the NBA ignoring its “principles” while upholding — or at least tolerating — China’s autocratic, undemocratic “principles.”

Indeed, Outkick’s Clay Travis pointed out that China’s “values” are so entirely antithetical to America’s that the only way the NBA could exhibit that “respect” Silver is talking about is to suppress American values and to let China’s practices reign unaddressed.

“If ever there was a time for a follow-up question, this was it. What ‘mutual respect’ does the NBA have for Chinese values?” Travis wrote. “Does the NBA respect the Chinese internment camps for Muslims? Does the NBA respect the silencing of protesters in Hong Kong? Does the NBA respect the fact that China lied about the coronavirus, thereby allowing the infection of tens of millions of people around the world? Does the NBA respect China’s continued attempts to set up bot accounts and foment artificial dissent in the United States through social media? Does the NBA respect China’s continued attempts to steal American technology and pirate it globally? Does the NBA respect the lack of free speech and basic human rights that exist in China?”

Good questions.

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