At first, we thought that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver had imposed a NBA tariff on China, a tariff that resulted in Chinese broadcasters cancelling plans to air some trial games later in the week between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets.
As a certain Welsh musician once said, “You don’t want yourself an incident, never invade China.”
There was no invasion, but apparently, there was an insult.
It came straight from the fingers of Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, who expressed support for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong.
To the Chinese mainland, supporting Hong Kong is Wrong Wrong.
As best we could determine, there were no mushroom clouds rising, as no one from the NBA tweeted support for the pro-independence factions in Taiwan, but perhaps Morey or some other freedom of speech advocate is simply waiting for his or her mobile to have a fully charged battery.
Anyone who thinks politics and religion make strange bedfellows can be assured that sports and politics is an even stranger pair. Throw social media into that bed and you have something that might be stranger still.
Silver is doing everything in his power to tamp down the reaction from the Chinese. The market for the NBA in China defies the human mind’s ability to conceptualise the size of the potential audience for the NBA in China, but it is over one billion people, conservatively.
Silver said that he and the league were apologetic.
The Chinese are apoplectic.
Said Silver, “We are not apologizing for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees. What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”
The offensive tweet has been deleted, so everything should be okay now, right?
The deletion tactic did not work for Israel Folau and it is highly doubtful the NBA will realise a different outcome.
If rugby players have to cover up their body art in order to avoid offending the Japanese, should the NBA compel anyone on the China trip to turn over their mobiles when the plane lands in China?
By the way, did LeBron make the trip?
He could make everything all right.