You’d think that with a population of 1.4 billion, it would take more than one Yao Ming to turn the Chinese populace into basketball maniacs — but apparently that’s all it took.
The love was mutual, as the NBA calculated ways to monetize the mania. But the GM of the Houston Rockets planted a giant fly in the $500 million ointment with a tweet supporting the Hong Kong protests.
The Chinese did what they do: got pissed off and starting canceling all sorts of NBA-related activities, clearly “encouraging” Chinese sponsors to pull back as well.
The NBA did what they do: They screwed it up. First, by defending the Rocket GM’s right to his opinion, then doing a fast flip once the accountants starting adding up the damage.
Now we have no idea what the NBA really thinks and just how far they will go to kiss the ass of the highly lucrative “harmonious society." If I was the Rocket’s GM, I’d be all over LinkedIn with an updated resume.
Now the joy of doing business in China has spread to other companies doing pretty much whatever is necessary to keep active in that market. (Thanks, NBA, for stirring that pot!!)
Not a day goes by that U.S. companies do not transact business with countries that have abominable human rights records — including Mexico, Ukraine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and Iraq. Not to mention our own little Philippines.
So there’s little room for U.S. CEOs to claim the moral high ground (although I suspect Anthony Pratt is already designing his next full-page WSJ ad wedging his head farther up Trump’s ass).
The size of the China market far surpasses those other nations that have terrible human rights records and is prone to political tantrums, so there is a fair amount of looking the other way when the dragon starts to breathe fire. If I made my living there, I might feel the same way.
With a Criminal-In-Chief at the helm, the U.S. can no longer claim any moral superiority to nations prone to crushing minorities that piss them off (if you are Black, you might argue this has been the case all along in this country, anyway). Turning our backs on the Kurds is just the latest demonstration of how far we have fallen and how ashamed we should be of our nation.
I am old enough to remember when the U.S. was the integrity standard by which other nations measured themselves, but then I think about Vietnam, Kent State, Jim Crow, The Bay of Pigs, Iraq, Columbine (et al), and that it was necessary to impeach three of the last nine Presidents. Humbling, to be sure.
I’m confident this will all end with the NBA (and the other companies) doing what is best for their economic interests -- and somehow avoiding the moral conflict of interest that goes with their choices.