WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump sent a strongly worded letter, addressed simply “2 CHINA,” urging them to quit pressuring the National Basketball Association, its teams, and its players, into stifling criticism of their policies toward Hong Kong. Over the past several weeks, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong have faced increasing crackdowns from Chinese authorities. The NBA got involved when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted his support for the protesters.
Close to a week later, the fallout from that single, quickly-deleted tweet – which included the words “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong” – is still dominating the news cycle. (BBC)
Days later, the controversy shows no signs of stopping. China has thrown its weight around and applied pressure to the league, its teams, and the players, insisting that freedom of speech doesn’t apply in every situation. Many American fans all over the political spectrum have expressed anger and disgust at the seeming willingness of the league’s executives to allow China to suppress the free expression of its players.
“I mean, call me crazy, but that sounds a bit like a slave master telling his slaves to shut up and pick cotton,” one league insider told us via Skype. “But what do I know? I’m just a person who enjoys living in a country where people are allowed to speak their minds without retribution from the government. Fuck me, am I right?”
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Not one to shy away from the chance to make an issue about him, President Donald Trump took time away from his busy schedule of live-tweeting his impeachment to weigh in on the matter. Pacing around the White House lawn, awaiting the arrival of a helicopter to take him to Denny’s for a Grand Slam breakfast, Trump was spotted by pool reporters and asked if he’d like to comment on the NBA and China situation. Wasting no time at all, Trump said he’d “love to bloviate and spew some stupidity” while his helicopter landed and prepared to receive him.
“Well, China and the urbans, they’re going to have to work it out, you know. I mean, nobody is as tough on China as I am,” Trump insisted. “So I would say that if the urbans in the basketballer competition league want my help negotiating a great deal with China, a deal where they’ll be allowed to speak freely about China, then they should call me.”
President Trump said that while he was “usually not the type to come to the defense of uppity urbans,” he would do so in this case because of his trade war with China.
“I’m in a battle with China like no one has ever seen before. So you know what? I take personal exception to them trying to stifle my urbans’ free speech,” Trump said, turning to look straight into a television camera. “I’ll say it right here, right now. I’ll remind China of something very simply — it’s my job to stifle black American athletes free speech, not theirs. And if they don’t knock it off, I’m increasing tariffs on their goods 1,000,000%!”
Trump says that China “has no standing” with U.S. athletes, even though “every black should be standing for freedom’s sake” while the national anthem plays before sporting events.
“All I’m saying is that China has no standing, okay? I get it, though, I really do. Everyone wants to take a crack at my black athletes, but they’re mine to scold, stifle, and disenfranchise,” Trump insisted. “China is playing a very risky game here. They need to leave the uppity urbans to me. Sure, every black should be standing for freedom’s sake, because what country has treated them better than America, in the long run, I’m saying? But it’s MY JOB to breate them publicly. It’s MY job to tell them they cannot protest without being labeled ungrateful, spoiled, uppity urbans. It’s not China’s place!”
The NBA did not comment on this story.
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