CLAY: Bit of news out there. Canada, England, Australia have all joined the United States in a diplomatic boycott of China over human rights violations in the Xianxian region with the Uyghur population — “genocide,” as the United States government has called it — and we reached out, by the way, to Enes Kanter Freedom, who has been wearing tennis shoes condemning China on the basketball court.
Enes Kanter told the New York Post that he was told by NBA officials, “Hey, can you please take those tennis shoes off, those sneakers off? They are going to offend China,” and the NBA doesn’t want to offend China because they make hundreds of millions of dollars. It’s interesting, Buck. Things have turned in a hurry as it pertains to China, and it seems like the Peng Shuai incident with the WTA, the Women’s Tennis Association.
For those of you who missed this story, this has turned into a monster pivot point, I believe, in U.S.-China relations. Peng Shuai was a women’s tennis player who accused a prominent Communist Party official of sexual assault, and then China effectively disappeared her. Well, in the past when China has stood up and slapped around sports leagues and companies, most of the sports leagues and the companies — the NBA in particular point of fact with what happened with Daryl Morey when he supported Hong Kong freedom — have tended to “shut up and dribble. ”
They’ve genuflected at the altar of Chairman Xi. They’ve done whatever they need you to do to try to avoid offending China. And that’s not just the NBA. It’s movie companies. It’s Disney. It’s Apple. It’s all of these different multinationals that have major connections request China. What’s interesting is when the WTA stood up and said, “We’re pulling all of our events out of China,” it seems to have provided a backbone to others, including many people who have been otherwise looking askance or looking away from the protests of guys like Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James. Greg Popovich. Steve Kerr.
Well, Bob Costas — who is one of the most legendary voices in the world of sports and also a quite intelligent guy — decided that he was finally ready to tee off on Colin Kaepernick and on LeBron James about why they’re so silent with everything going on in China. Here’s Bob Costas. Let’s play cut 11.
COSTAS: The NBA is up to its neck in China. China is a huge sports market. Basketball is especially popular there. But they will put up with not even the slightest criticism. By the way, a lot of Nike’s goods that benefit the likes of Colin Kaepernick and LeBron James? Made in China. And those outspoken individuals — and in many cases I think millions of Americans would agree with their positions on domestic issues, but — they are conspicuously mum when it comes to China. And no matter what the issues are here, and they are serious issues, in terms of dimension, they pale alongside what’s going on in China.
BUCK: So one of the things about the whole NBA-China and really just sports and big corporations and China, right — you can do this at different levels, different tier — is that it’s one of the few times where you can see, do people in prominent positions, very wealthy, very influential individuals…? We’re talking the CEO of Disney or LeBron James or the NBA league commissioner. Is it’s still…? What the guy’s name?
CLAY: Adam Silver.
Listen to the full segment: Bob Costas Bashes Woke Athletes for China Cowardice