Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) has called on the NBA to put pro-police, military, and “Free Hong Kong” messages on their uniforms, as opposed to the Black Lives Matter-related messages the league plans to have on jerseys when the league restarts later this month.
“The NBA and its players’ union announced plans last week to wear social justice messages on the back of their jerseys, including “I Can’t Breathe” and “Anti-Racist,” USA Today reports. “The league also has plans to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the courts in Orlando, Florida, when play resumes July 30.”
Hawley, however, has an entirely different message in mind for the league.
If @NBA is going to put social cause statements on uniforms, why not “Support our Troops” or “Back the Blue”? Or given how much $$ @nba makes in #China, how about “Free Hong Kong”! Today I wrote to Adam Silver to ask for answers pic.twitter.com/PthYR4OxmE
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) July 10, 2020
In the letter, Hawley tells NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, “You have crossed the line of sanctioning specific political messages.”
Hawley wrote, “Let your players stand up for the people of Hong Kong. Let them stand up for American law enforcement if they choose. Give them the choice to write ‘Back the Blue’ on their jerseys. Or ‘Support our Troops.’ Maybe ‘God Bless America.’ What could be more American than that?”
Hawley specifically took exception to the league’s business dealings with and catering to the Chinese Communist Party.
“Given the NBA’s troubled history of excusing and apologizing for the brutal repression of the Chinese Communist regime, these omissions are striking,” Hawley wrote Friday. “Free expression appears to stop at the edge of your corporate sponsors’ sensibilities. And for woke capital today, profits from the Chines market are more popular than patriotism.”
The NBA came under heavy scrutiny from Hawley and others last fall. When the league apologized to China for a tweet from Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey, in which he expressed solidarity with pro-democracy demonstrators in Hong Kong.
As of this writing, the league has not yet responded to Hawley’s letter.
Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter @themightygwinn