When an NBA player decided to send a message to the Chinese government about repression, it didn’t take long for Beijing to prove his point.
A Chinese telecom giant pulled the plug Wednesday on the season-opening game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks in a display of raw censorship that should make clear to the National Basketball League and every one of its fans exactly what kind of dictatorship it’s dealing with when it kowtows to China.
The only question is whether the league — and President Joe Biden’s administration — will be honest about it.
The incident started on Wednesday when Celtics backup center Enes Kanter took to social media with a video that blasted the Chinese Communist Party’s treatment of Tibet — the Himalayan country that China has ruled with an iron first since forcibly annexing it in 1951.
Unlike many in the league who walk on eggshells when it comes to China for fear of taking a hit financially, Kanter was scathing.
Dear Brutal Dictator XI JINPING and the Chinese Government
— Enes Kanter (@EnesKanter) October 20, 2021
Wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet who’s lived in exile since fleeing Chinese rule in 1959, Kanter said Chinese oppression is so brutal Tibetans can be arrested just for possessing such a photograph.
“Brutal dictator of China, Xi Jinping, I have a message for you and your henchmen,” he said.
“I will say it again, again and again, loud and clear, I hope you hear me:
“Free Tibet, free Tibet, free Tibet.”
Oh, they heard it all right.
As Yahoo Sports reported Thursday, Tencent, the Chinese technology giant and NBA partner in China, abruptly shut down the Celts-Knicks game. Not only that, but Tencent, a company that Bloomberg reported is increasingly under the control of the communist dictatorship, even removed Celtics highlights (though stats are still available, Yahoo reported.)
The NBA did not immediately respond to the Chinese action, but the league’s past actions are not reassuring to any American who cares about freedom.
The same executives who had “Black Lives Matter” murals on the courts last season to virtue-signal concerns about freedoms and equality in the freest, most equality-oriented country on earth, evidently don’t give a tinker’s damn about equality or human rights when it runs the risk of interfering with major business deals with one of the most repressive regimes in the world.
Remember back in October 2019, when then-Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey posted a message supporting Hong Kong protesters against the mainland government’s crackdown? The Washington Generals have put up stronger fights than the cowards of cupidity who run the NBA.
LeBron James, the NBA star who rarely fails to find the wrong side of any issue to land on, covered himself in even-greater-than-usual disgrace with his comments about Morey’s statement (which had been quickly taken down from Twitter for fear of offending the league’s Asian overlords.)
Morey wasn’t “educated on the situation at hand,” James said, with an arrogance shared by commissars the world over.
Kanter, to his everlasting credit, took on James at the time, too. It’s worth noting here that Kanter, a native of Turkey, is an outspoken opponent of Turkish dictator-in-the-making Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter, unlike James and his fellow Black Lives Matter posers, actually knows what repression looks like.
The NBA basically crawled to China then — Morey’s deleted tweet was quickly followed by an apology from Morey and a public shaming of him by the league in a statement filled with skin-crawling self-abasement.
“We recognize that the views expressed by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey have deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China, which is regrettable,” the statement said, according to CBS News.
“While Daryl has made it clear that his tweet does not represent the Rockets or the NBA, the values of the league support individuals’ educating themselves and sharing their views on matters important to them. We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together.”
Morey ended up going to the Philadelphia 76ers — a team that is also persona non grata with Tencent’s Chinese executives. According to Yahoo Sports, the Philadelphia team’s games and highlights are also unavailable from the company, proving communists neither forgive nor forget.
There’s more to all this than another spat between the brutal Beijing dictatorship and an American sports league that cares more about the money that comes from international expansion than it does about human freedom.
The reality is, China’s oppression of Tibet is just one of the reasons a decent human being would despise its current regime.
It’s stamping out of freedom in Hong Kong. It’s committing literal genocide against the Uyghur Muslim population. It has adopted an increasingly belligerent stance toward Taiwan that could well lead to war. And it is almost certainly responsible for the global pandemic that now caused almost 5 million deaths worldwide and more than 750,000 in the U.S. (Both numbers are certain to rise.)
So far, the crisis-plagued, incompetent presidency of the doddering Joe Biden has shown little stomach for confronting the Chinese threat (quite possibly because Biden and his son Hunter are compromised financially or morally already).
Beijing’s ugly display of intolerance with the Celtics this week, increasing Chinese arrogance in dealing with the U.S. and the undeniable danger it poses to the United States and abroad, make it clear that the country is bent on domination — cultural, military and, eventually, political.
The NBA has already proven it is either too dishonest or too greedy to care.
In less than a year in office, the Biden administration is well on its way to proving the same.
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