Remember way back in 2018 when “Shut up and dribble” was a horrible thing to say to millionaire athletes who are paid to, er, dribble? Times sure have changed. (Or maybe the phrase sounds better said with a Chinese accent?)
Fox Sports’ Jason Whitlock remembers that too, which is why he said on Speak for Yourself Tuesday, “The NBA is strangling on its own hypocrisy.” He was speaking, of course, about the league’s (and numerous coaches’ and players’) craven ducking and covering. One of its own angered the communist Chinese government by tweeting support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement. As with the movies it allows to be shown in the country, the Party will brook no criticism from foreign sports organizations who want to avail themselves of China's huge market.
Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey has since deleted the tweet, and the league abjectly apologized, but Chinese partners canceled contracts and money was lost. The “woke” league found itself in the middle of an old-fashioned PR nightmare. Reliably big-mouthed lefties were silent, and the NBA did not cover itself with glory.
“They branded themselves as the ‘social justice league,’ ‘the most progressive league,’ Whitlock said. “The NBA needs to be more honest about what it is; it’s a business -- a cold hearted business. And there’s a ton of money to be made in China. That’s why every NBA player runs his ass over to China two or three times every summer: to get the bag.”
And Whitlock named names:
The NBA, Steve Kerr, Greg Popovich, Lebron James -- nobody wants to visit the White House, everybody’s very critical of the American government. But here we have a communist, repressive government that [has] human rights violations out the ying-yang. But Daryl Morey [has] and innocent little tweet here and nobody can stand by him -- for business purposes.
Indeed. China oppresses its own people in myriad ways, and just now it’s in the middle of breaking Hong Kong to its wheel. The situation has already gotten violent; the police shot and killed a protestor last week.
But some police shootings don’t merit even mild condemnation from the NBA’s social justice mouthpieces. Next time they want to spout off about this or that progressive cause, tell them to shut up and dribble. Or, in Whitlock’s formulation: “Quit fakin’ the funk, and just be a business.”