In a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NLPC Chairman Peter Flaherty wrote, “The league’s present position of neutrality on events in Hong Kong and China is morally untenable, and even that neutrality is fake.” The complete letter appears below.
On Monday night, supporters of the Hong Kong protesters demonstrated inside the Washington Wizards-Golden State Warriors game at Capital One Arena in Washington, DC. Sporting t-shirts and waving signs, the group chanted “Free Hong Kong.”
Flaherty stated, “The protests in Hong Kong are not going away. We are here to demonstrate that they are not going away here either.”
In October, Warriors President Rick Welts said on CNBC about the controversy, “I think this will pass, and I think our future in China is pretty remarkable.”
Since October, local Hong Kong elections demonstrated widespread support for the protests, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was unanimously passed by Congress, and leaked Chinese Communist Party documents detailed the operation of a vast network of detention camps.”
Flaherty continued, “Sorry, Rick Welts, the issue is not going to pass.”
According to Reuters, ANTA Sports Products, Ltd., a Chinese company, has an endorsement contract with Warriors star Klay Thompson.
Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr has championed controversial causes in the United States, but he famously clammed up when recently asked about China.
Below is the complete text of the Flaherty letter to Silver:
Dear Commissioner Silver:
We ask that the NBA endorse the demands of the Hong Kong protesters.
The league’s present position of neutrality on events in Hong Kong and China is morally untenable, and even that neutrality is fake.
In the wake of Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the Hong Kong protesters, you stated, “The long-held values of the NBA are to support freedom of expression, certainly by members of the NBA community.” But very few in the NBA have echoed Morey’s sentiments, even as the protesters receive expressions of support from every corner of the world.
It is obvious that NBA employees are not free to speak their minds. The league is exercising control and censorship that while informal, is every bit as pernicious as that exercised by the Communist Party of China.
Of course, we do not expect the league owners to welcome this request, but that does not mean that it should not be fulfilled.
Until 1950, there were no African-American players in the NBA. The owners did not welcome demands that the league integrate. Even well into the Sixties, the league had an informal limit of three African-Americans on each team. The owners did not welcome calls for this practice to end.
NBA owners were finally forced to do the right thing. The only way out of its present conundrum is for the NBA to do the right thing by embracing the cause of a free Hong Kong. The NBA’s present de facto alliance with the Communist Party of China must end.
Events since Daryl Morey’s October 7 tweet underscore that the NBA is on the wrong side of history. Consider that the local Hong Kong elections in November demonstrated widespread support for the protests, the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act was unanimously passed by Congress, and leaked Chinese Communist Party documents detailed the operation of a vast network of detention camps.
Additionally, the handling of the coronavirus crisis by both the Hong Kong and Chinese governments is sure to fuel the grievances of the protesters.
The NBA has ascended to what it portrays as the moral high ground on a variety of issues that have nothing to do with basketball. You can’t climb halfway down the hill when it costs you money.
The league went so far as to move its 2017 All-Star game from Charlotte because the North Carolina legislature passed a law that overrode local measures that allowed transgender men to use the women’s restroom. The NBA appointed itself as a moral arbiter. It cannot now shirk the responsibility that comes with it.
There is no reason, except for loss of revenue, for the NBA not to choose the side of freedom. According to ESPN, the NBA has already lost between $150-$200 million in China revenue because of cancelled sponsorships and TV coverage. The NBA must prepare to lose more — a lot more.
Hong Kongers demand universal suffrage; the NBA promotes voter rights. Hong Kongers want an independent inquiry into police brutality; the NBA embraces Black Lives Matter. Hong Kongers seek due process and amnesty for arrested protesters; league officials endorse criminal justice reform.
Hong Kongers only ask for what the NBA has already endorsed for this country.
The world awaits your response.