Mac Engel

Donald Trump is right about the NBA, which should not apologize to China

The TCU student from China who explained the current flap between the NBA and his homeland made a few things clear.

1. “All we want is an apology,” he said.

2. “I love the NBA and I hope when I go home I can watch the games on TV,” he said.

3. “Please don’t use my name,” he said.

We all have a right to our opinion, and however clumsy and unaware Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey was with his world-altering tweet, the NBA should not issue any apology to China.

Not if it doesn’t mean it. By now we know it does not.

President Donald J. Trump is right, and the NBA should take its ball and go home.

Trump praised the delayed response by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who apologized for the outcome of Morey’s tweet but supported his right to say it.

Apologizing for an outcome is akin to saying, “I’m sorry you’re upset, but I am not sorry I did it.” It’s not an apology.

FYI: A few days ago, Morey tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” He since deleted the tweet, but not before China and its basketball federation cut ties with the Houston Rockets; per CNBC, 11 of the 13 Chinese companies that partner with the NBA ended their relationships.

When addressing the situation Wednesday, Trump predictably took aim at Golden State coach Steve Kerr and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich. Neither of the outspoken, left-leaning, Trump-hating coaches would touch the subject.

Just like Abe Lincoln, James Madison and George Washington before, Trump mocked and ridiculed those who dare criticize him. He took Kerr and Pop’s silence as “pandering to China.”

Trump also made sure to say both of these coaches “talk badly about the United States” when in fact what they often do is talk badly about him.

As much as the NBA, and every other corporation, wants China’s money, it does not need it.

Silver simply should say, “China, we thank you for the business. We’re going to Japan, India, Africa and other nations and continents that cannot get enough of our product,” and hang up.

Currently, the NBA’s Nets and Lakers are playing exhibition games in China but all media availability with players and the commissioner has been canceled. The NBA should have just canceled the whole thing and returned home.

The TCU student from China was kind enough to explain to me the specifics of the anger aimed from his nation at the NBA; he likened what Morey wrote to a racist comment in the United States, and mentioned former LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s language that led to his removal as an NBA owner.

Whatever problems that exist between Hong Kong and the rest of China are theirs, but if a nation cannot dismiss one uninformed tweet by one NBA general manager it speaks to a larger issue.

Enough nations, and companies, play ball with China despite its less-than-great record with civil rights, among other issues. Anyone mention Tibet today?

The NBA is a global brand and while it wants China, playing ball with an overseas government that is renowned for muscling whom it pleases is not necessary. The Chinese love basketball, and the NBA is the one brand the government may actually capitulate to and accommodate.

Of course, Morey doesn’t speak for the NBA, or even the Rockets, but for China to overreact in this fashion is embarrassing. Defending it is even more so.

A lot of NBA coaches, owners, players and GMs do not agree with many of the words that come out of Donald Trump’s mouth, but on this one they should all agree. Don’t apologize.

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Mac Engel is an award-winning columnist who has extensive experience covering Fort Worth-Dallas area sports for 20 years. He has covered high schools, colleges, all four major sports teams as well as Olympic games and the world of entertainment, too. He combines dry wit with first-person reporting to complement a head of hair that is almost unfair.
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