The N.B.A. Continues To Kiss Chinese Ass

The National Basketball Association's kowtowing to China hits American shores.

The National Basketball Association’s kowtowing to China isn’t just impacting events in China, it’s impacting Americans at home too:

A married couple said they were kicked out of Tuesday’s exhibition game between the 76ers and the Guangzhou Loong-Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association in Philadelphia for displaying signs that read “Free Hong Kong” and “Free HK” and then shouting the former slogan after security officers took their signs away.

Sam Wachs, a Philadelphia resident who said he lived in Hong Kong for two years, told NBC 10 that Wells Fargo Center security officers first confiscated their signs and then kicked him out along with his wife after they yelled “Free Hong Kong” in the second quarter.

“We were just sitting in our seats near the Chinese bench,” Wachs said.

“We were saying, ‘Free Hong Kong,’ ” Wachs continued. “What’s wrong with that?”

In a statement to The Post, the 76ers said a number of fans had complained about the two fans’ “continuing disruption.”

“The Wells Fargo Center’s event staff is responsible for the security and comfort of all guests at arena events, including 76ers games. At last evening’s game, following multiple complaints from guests and verbal confrontations with others in attendance, two individuals were warned by Wells Fargo Center staff about their continuing disruption of the fan experience. Ultimately, the decision was made by Wells Fargo Center personnel to remove the guests from the premises, which was accomplished without incident,” the statement read.

In a separate statement on behalf of Wells Fargo Center, the team said the fans had been warned three times about their behavior.
“During the second quarter of last night’s 76ers game, Wells Fargo Center security responded to a situation that was disrupting the live event experience for our guests,” that statement read. “After three separate warnings, the two individuals were escorted out of the arena without incident. The security team employed respectful and standard operating procedures.”

Here are the signs in question

Other reports have indicated that the two fans were seated near a group of Chinese fans who were cheering on their home country and who were troubled and/or offended by the signs and that arguments had broken out between the sign holders and some of the Chinese fans. There is no indication that any of the Chinese fans were asked to leave the Wells Fargo Center as a result of this incident, so it appears that it is the two fans holding the signs supporting the protests in Hong Kong

This isn’t just an isolated incident, the same thing happened at a Washington Wizards game in Washington, D.C.:

Several people at a Washington Wizards basketball game Wednesday against a Chinese team said their signs supporting anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong and protesting the treatment of an ethnic group in China were confiscated.

The action follows a similar incident Tuesday when two fans were kicked out of a Philadelphia 76ers game because they carried small, handmade signs supporting anti-government demonstrators in Hong Kong.

A group of people at the Wizard’s game said their signs were confiscated at Capital One Arena in Washington during a game against the Guangzhou Loong-Lions, of the Chinese Basketball Association. Another person said he was told to ditch his sign supporting Hong Kong or leave, and he chose to leave.

Patrick Hedger, 29, of Alexandria, Virginia, said he had a sign that read “Free Hong Kong” and chanted slogans like, “We will not bow to Chinese communist oppression” and “freedom of speech.”

“I knew I had to say something and take a stand,” said Hedger, who lived in Hong Kong briefly as a child and again when he was in a study-abroad program

Others at the Wizards game tweeted they were allowed to wear “Free Hong Kong” shirts but a sign that read “Google Uyghurs,” referring to a Muslim ethnic group that the U.S. government says is being repressed in China with mass detention in internment camps, was confiscated.

Jon Schweppe, 31, who posted the video, said they also decided to leave after being told by security that political statements were not allowed. “We felt we’d made our point at that point,” he said.

The Wizards said in a statement that no fans were asked to leave, and that the building security staff removed signs in accordance with the arena’s policies against political or commercial signs.

The policies posted online say signs are allowed but may not be political or commercial in nature. Video purporting to show the confiscation of the sign about the Uyghurs shows an official saying no political signs are allowed.

Here’s some video of what happened in D.C:

All of this is occurring, of course, in the context of the week-long controversy that erupted after a co-owner of the Houston Rockets posted a message supportive of the protests in Hong Kong on his private Twitter account. Despite the fact that the post was deleted, it has led to a controversy in China that has thrown ongoing exhibition games in Beijing and Shanghai into doubt and led to a muddled response from the league. Specifically, the league has spent the better part of this week trying to mend fences with its partners in China while at the same time claiming that it supported the free speech rights of its owners and players, a position that has seemingly satisfied nobody.

The fact that the NBA’s kowtowing to China has come to American shores is likely to just make the problem worse. In all likelihood, we’ll see more people bring signs like these to games, especially as the exhibition games against Chinese teams continue for the next several days. No doubt, the league will continue to do what it can to please China because it’s obviously made the choice between money and freedom of speech and between good relations with a dictatorship and recognizing freedom of speech.

FILED UNDER: China, Sports, ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Kathy says:

    In a statement to The Post, the 76ers said a number of fans had complained about the two fans’ “continuing disruption.”

    This si the kind of statement that just insults our intelligence.

    Unless they were playing golf or tennis at the basketball match, two fans yelling would have gotten lost amid the cacophony common to sporting events. Disruption? Come on!

  2. Paul L. says:

    it’s obviously made the choice between money and freedom of speech and between good relations with a dictatorship and recognizing freedom of speech.

    Time of the progressive talking point for social media companies banning speech.
    They are a private company not the government. They can police speech.

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  3. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Paul L.:

    Time of the progressive talking point for social media companies banning speech.

    This sentence makes no sense. You’re apparently phoning it in. Do you get paid by the post or something, and are just rushing around dropping stuff as fast as you can?

    They are a private company not the government. They can police speech.

    Yep, they sure can. I didn’t read anything in Doug’s post that said it was illegal. Just that he didn’t like it. I don’t like it either. We get to say that.

    I don’t like that support for human rights is contingent on rich people making more money. But that’s where the country, and the world, is right now.

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  4. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I don’t like that support for human rights is contingent on rich people making more money. But that’s where the country, and the world, is right now.

    I’ve been thinking about that, and about the related post on self-censorship in Hollywood movies. I think it’s not the mere objective of making money, or even making more money, that’s the issue here. Rather it’s the idea of making all the money possible regardless of any other considerations.

    I know she’s not popular here, but Ayn Rand has Howard Roark in “The Fountainhead” criticize people who lust after money. He says something like it’s ok to make money, tons of it, but for a purpose. This often gets lost, and to be fair she didn’t advocate this much in her own writings. My take is that money, or making money, should not be an end in itself.

    Right now, making money, more money, and especially all the money, is the ultimate goal of way too many people (unless it’s keeping their money). and this trumps just about everything else: principles, sympathy, empathy, justice, anything.

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  5. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: That is so spot on, and perfect, that banging the thumbs up was just not enough.

    I have no problem with people making money. It’s the prioritization of that over everything else that’s a problem. This is pretty new to American capitalism. A friend calls it the “fiscalization of everything”. It’s also a terrible way to build a visionary company, if books like Built To Last are to believed.

  6. CSK says:

    I’m reminded of a late acquaintance, who would often insist that China was far and away superior to any other present-day country. When challenged about Chinese human rights violations, censorship, any form of oppression, he’d insist: “They feed all their people!”

  7. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    In the Michael Lewis podcast “Against the Rules,” there’s en episode featuring Kenneth Feinberg, who has arbitrated a ton of disputes and other matters involving large sums of money. Among other things, he administrated, as Special master, the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

    But the part I found relevant here was his role as Special Master for Executive Compensation in 2009. In the podcast, Feinberg says he often suggested salaries much lower than the executives in question were used to (this applied to firms that received federal bailout money). These were still quite munificent sums, the kind most people can only fantasize about.

    The objections Feinberg says he encountered was not with the use for the money, or whether such salaries were enough to maintain a lavish lifestyle, but were, I’m paraphrasing here, “You’re saying I’m worth only two million?” This shows their self-worth was wrapped entirely in their pay.

    So you have the executive in any industry who is worth tens of millions, puts in long hours, works on weekends and vacations, because they need to make more money so they can feel they are worth more. not because they need more money, for whatever reason, or want to amass a large sum for some kind of high risk investment, or for charity, or to save for a trip to Mars even.

    This is why I respect people like Elon Musk, though he’s more than a bit of an a-hole and rather thin-skinned. At least he has been using his vast fortune on worthwhile projects like SpaceX, Tesla, the thing with putting solar panels on home roofs, etc. For him money is a means to several ends.

  8. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Built To Last

    A hasty Google search seems promising. There doesn’t seem to be an audio book version, but I did find it on Scribd. Thanks!

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Thinking a profit taking corporation has principles above profit taking is….

    Truly naive.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Paul L.:

    They are a private company not the government. They can police speech.

    And we are private citizens. Guess what? We get to police speech too.

  11. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: Built To Last is far and away the best business book I have ever read. The only thing in its league is the sequel Good To Great, but like most sequels, it isn’t as good as the original.

  12. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: @OzarkHillbilly:

    Thinking a profit taking corporation has principles above profit taking is….

    Truly naive.

    Since it seems you’re calling me “truly naive”, I’m feeling like I should respond. In a capitalist system, any company has to be profitable to survive. But there are many examples of companies that had a purpose to their existence other than “make money”. And yeah, they are definitely a minority, but they are out there.

    I know this because I’m currently engaged in running such a company. It’s small, but we have a mission, which is something other than “make lots of money”. I already have enough money, and unlike some, I don’t think my worth as a human being is measured by my annual salary, nor am I engaged in some sort of competition over who’s the best executive. No, I want to make a very small change in the world that I think will be a good thing. We’ll see.

  13. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    This is why I respect people like Elon Musk,

    “I’m an idiot.” -Elon Musk (from an article in the Guardian quoting a filing in the court case w/ the British diver) I’ve been telling him that for years, Yes, he is trying to do some good with his money…. But… It’s all in service to his ego.

    I’d have a a lot more respect if he showed some humility on the vast variety of subjects he chooses to weigh in on that he has absolutely no knowledge of whatsoever. As my mother said so many times for so many years, “I want a doctor who can admit, “I don’t know.” when I ask a question.”

    When it came to caving, Elon Musk didn’t know shit. (trust me, I’m a life long caver and I saw his contraption. It was a death trap). But instead of recognizing that he was out of his depth, Elon called Vernon Unsworth a pedophile.

  14. Timothy Watson says:

    There’s also the video of a NBA minder pulling the microphone out of the hand of a CNN reporter who dared to ask players about the controversy during a press conference.

  15. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Seeing as I was responding to absolutely nothing you said, uhhhh, no.

    I was speaking to the MBA mindset where all things are subservient to the goal, the only goal of making a profit. Many years ago, I read a section of a business text book ( a friend of mine was taking a class) where they talked about the purpose of a corporation and how corporate charters came into being. The main reason, as I recall, was for the betterment of society… and hopefully a reasonable profit. That any corporation that was not bettering society c/should be dissolved. This was over a decade ago, and I am sure I don’t remember it with complete accuracy, but it made an impression on me. The idea that corporations came into being for the benefit of society, not a select few. Contrary to my own personal experience.

    Believe me when I say, best of luck to you and all your endeavors. May you succeed in all your goals, including the one where you are able to live comfortably.

  16. Jay L Gischer says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I guess this is why using the word “you” in a comment can lead to issues. I know the attitude you speak of, and it’s a problem. Fascinatingly, that soulless quest for more money leads to companies that are somewhat lifeless and unable to articulate any vision.

    If they have their rents nailed down, they can go on that way for a long time though…

  17. Sleeping Dog says:

    The fact that the owners and the league has bent over and grabbed their ankles for the Chinese is not a terrible shock (queue the gambling raid scene from Casablanca), but the real disappointment is the players who have often been vocal about societal issues in the past. James Harden is on record dissembling about Hong Kong, LaBron James, normally among the first to speak, has been strangely silent.

  18. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    As far as I know, corporations were meant to share risk and limit liability.

  19. Gustopher says:

    @CSK:

    When challenged about Chinese human rights violations, censorship, any form of oppression, he’d insist: “They feed all their people!”

    Well, there was that big famine… 36 million starved to death. More due to incompetence than malevolence, if a thirty second skim of Wikipedia while having a beer is to be trusted.

    But, other than that, they’ve done a decent job on that front. Food is a human right, and comes before religion, guns, speech, etc. Healthcare too.

  20. Gustopher says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    When it came to caving, Elon Musk didn’t know shit. (trust me, I’m a life long caver and I saw his contraption. It was a death trap). But instead of recognizing that he was out of his depth, Elon called Vernon Unsworth a pedophile.

    I think Elon Musk was just trying to ensure that googling “Elon Musk pedophile” would turn up a basically harmless controversy rather than the TRUTH.

  21. Teve says:

    There are lots of NBA players in China right now playing exhibition games in places like Shanghai. I’m sure that played into the PR calculations.

    The noxious idea that corporations are obligated to maximize shareholder value at the expense of everything else is finally dying, thank heavens. Not fast enough to prevent the NBA from embarrassing itself though, it seems.

  22. Timothy Watson says:

    @Sleeping Dog: It’s almost like they’re self-righteous hypocrites.

  23. Nickel Front says:

    Google’s motto used to be “Do no evil.”

    Google and Apple are both blocking apps used by the protesters in HK. Google blocks content the Chinese govt doesn’t like.

    Google just changed the definition of Evil I guess.

    One of the more infuriating things about the NBA situation is the way these people will chime in on everything here in the US, yet somehow lack the information to criticize OBVIOUS human rights abuses in China. Steve Kerr is an absolute ass.

  24. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy:

    limit liability.

    Judging by the number of CEOs, CFOs, etc who go to prison for the crimes their corporations “commit,” that is certainly what they do now.

    I really have no idea of the accuracy of the textbook, but iirc, s/he cited the first state laws establishing corporations to back up their position. Again, I read that over a decade ago, maybe 2 decades ago, and there is no telling how true my memory of it is.

  25. Guarneri says:

    This issue has more to do with the specific individuals involved. Not all sports or sporting events have the same mentality. Here is how Chicago does it, and they go nuts every time:

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=blackhawks+national+anthem+jim+cornelison&view=detail&mid=D48972C93DECCE9521B3D48972C93DECCE9521B3&FORM=VIRE

    In slinging your shixt you should consider that the NBA, NFL, Nike’s and Kaepernicks of the world are darlings of the left.

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  26. Tyrell says:

    @Kathy: The NBA is blocking players from making comments about their relationship with China. They will not let reporters ask questions relating to China. My days of watching NBA are over. I will not buy anything made in China.
    I am ashamed of Steph Curry, Coach Kerr, and Coach Popovich.

  27. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tyrell:

    I will not buy anything made in China.

    Good luck with that.

  28. Teve says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’m old enough to remember when Microsoft Apple Dell Cisco Intel AMD and some others said they were supporting the rights of gay people to get married, and right-wingers said for what seemed like a week that they’d never use those products and then somebody pointed out to them they’d never be able to use the internet again and they quietly stopped saying it. 🙂

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  29. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Teve: One can not buy a car with out buying several things made in China. Probably the same can be said for a can opener or a pair of pants.

  30. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    I really have no idea of the accuracy of the textbook, but iirc, s/he cited the first state laws establishing corporations to back up their position. Again, I read that over a decade ago, maybe 2 decades ago, and there is no telling how true my memory of it is.

    My comment was in a general sense, not specific to your argument.

    Business and business partnerships go back all the way to at least the beginning of civilization. Corporations are far more recent. They pretty much began in the era of (European) exploration, when high-volume global trade grew too large for individuals or even small companies to handle. that’s when you get the royal charters granting monopolies, and when the first limited liability joint stock companies arise.

    The idea was to spread the financial risk in ventures like setting up colonies in the Americas, as well as limiting the liability owed to the amount of stock invested in the company. Things varied by country, and over time. When states codified them in law, they probably built on the existing order, adding on conditions advantageous, politically or economically, to the state.

  31. Kathy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly:

    It’s not that hard.

    You just plain don’t buy anything.

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kathy: OK, thanx.

    @Kathy: Heh.

  33. gVOR08 says:

    Not an area in which I claim any expertise, but there does seem to be something very wrong with corporate governance in this country. There was a time (and IIRC I’m citing J. K. Galbraith here, not my own youthful memory) when CEOs stayed for a career at one company and had a loyalty to that company as an institution, when planning horizons went beyond two quarters, when employees, suppliers, and customers were seen as stakeholders along with shareholders. The root evil seems to be the idea that only shareholder value matters, enforced by tying compensation to stock prices. Which I believe originated, as with so much evil, from the Chicago School.

  34. Teve says:

    @Kathy:

    Corporations are far more recent. They pretty much began in the era of (European) exploration, when high-volume global trade grew too large for individuals or even small companies to handle. that’s when you get the royal charters granting monopolies, and when the first limited liability joint stock companies arise.

    this was the best part of the Baroque Cycle. I need to find a good non-fiction treatment of this period of economic history, it was really interesting.

  35. Teve says:

    @gVOR08: Milton Friedman is given a lot of the credit for that, which is recently been called the worst idea anyone’s had in history. I think that’s overstating the case, but only slightly.