NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is so woke, he once outlawed the word “owner” for being racially insensitive. He canceled an NBA All-Star Game in Charlotte, North Carolina, to protest that state’s anti-transgender-bathroom legislation.
He has encouraged his coaches to rail against President Trump’s immigration policies and his players to promote Black Lives Matter.
He has instituted a gender quota for referees, declared progressive code words “diversity” and “inclusion” as “core principles” and danced on a float at New York’s Gay Pride Parade.
He’s too woke for regular handshakes, instead deploying a dap-like multi-grip combo with air hug, which looks decidedly awkward coming from a dorky, gangly, bald, bespectacled, 57-year-old white lawyer from Rye. At least he tries.
Silver is proud of using his position to push social-justice politics. “I think in this day and age, you really do have to stand for something,” he told CNN last year. “To take a position on important things that are happening in society.”
But all Silver’s posturing looks empty now that he has raced over to Beijing to grovel behind closed doors.
The time for “standing for something” was last weekend, after Houston Rockets basketball boss Daryl Morey exercised his free speech with a tweet supporting Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
But in the face of China’s belligerent reaction to the tweet, the NBA cravenly capitulated. It damned Morey’s “regrettable” sentiments that had “deeply offended many of our friends and fans in China.”
It wheeled out Morey to recant. It deputized Rockets star James Harden to deliver a pathetic ode to the Communist dictatorship: “We love China. We love playing there . . . We love everything they’re about.”
By Tuesday night, husband-and-wife Philadelphia 76ers fans were reportedly thrown out of a preseason game against a Chinese team because he was yelling, “Free Hong Kong.”
Message received loud and clear.
But America’s most politically correct sport can’t suddenly pretend to be apolitical and morally neutral when it comes to standing up for actual human rights in Hong Kong.
The NBA’s kowtowing to China’s bullying is proof, if you ever needed it, that woke capitalism is a sick con job. It is the opposite of “standing for something.”
Silver made a political decision to play preseason games in China, in the middle of the crisis in Hong Kong. Greedy to cash in on a multibillion-dollar market, he turned a blind eye as China celebrated 70 years of Communist Party rule by shooting a teenager in the chest.
Now it has come back to bite him.
By Wednesday, despite the kowtow, every one of the NBA’s official Chinese partners had suspended their relationship with the league. Chinese state television announced games would no longer be broadcast. A Chinese sporting goods company has cut off the Rockets, the Chinese Basketball Association has suspended its relationship with the team, and the Shanghai Sports Federation has canceled NBA events.
Sniffing the wind of domestic disapproval, Silver toughened his language somewhat late Monday in defense of Morey’s “ability to exercise his freedom of expression.”
But straddling the fence is not the same as standing for something.
Beijing recognizes cowardice and is determined to make an example of the NBA to ensure no one in the West dare side with Hong Kong’s brave democracy protesters.
“Let’s hope the incident with Morey and the Houston Rockets will teach other companies a lesson,” China Daily, the English language state newspaper, declared. “The big Chinese market is open to the world, but those who challenge China’s core interests and hurt Chinese people’s feelings cannot make any profit from it.”
Luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. made its own craven apology to China Monday over an ad depicting an Asian model with her hand over her right eye. The image was suspected of being supportive of the Hong Kong protesters because, in August, a young woman was blinded in the right eye after being shot by police with “beanbag” bullets during protests in Kowloon. No matter that the image was photographed in May, well before the incident, Tiffany deleted it from all social media forever.
Slam dunk for cowardice.
China increasingly is willing to use its market power to subvert freedom in the West and Western businesses are willing to capitulate.
Just this year, Apple removed the Taiwan-flag emoji from its latest software update to placate China.
Google censored a game, “The Revolution of Our Times,” deemed to be pro-Hong Kong.
Mercedes-Benz apologized for quoting the Dalai Lama on Instagram.
Qantas, Air France, Air Canada and British Airways changed the way they described Taiwan online to “Taiwan China.”
Hollywood now edits movies to suit Beijing’s censors, removing Taiwanese patches on Tom Cruise’s jacket in “Top Gun: Maverick,” changing the ethnicity of Red Dawn’s Chinese villain or deleting Tibet from “Doctor Strange.” All to keep sweet with China.
Long Woke Silver was in Shanghai Wednesday, telling Brooklyn Nets and LA Lakers players that their preseason game will still go ahead Thursday, but the message from China is that all bets are off, as workers busied themselves outside ripping down NBA posters.
If he had any love for the game and any sense of national pride, the NBA commissioner would follow the bullish lead of his nemesis President Trump, pull the teams out of China and rip up every contract with the communist regime.
China needs the NBA more than the NBA needs China.
Such a loser
Either Hillary Clinton has out-trolled Donald Trump or she’s delusional.
She’s been teasing the “corrupt human tornado” for weeks about running against him next year, although you’d think the Democrats would be more upset by the prospect.
”Don’t tempt me,” she replied when the president tweeted at her this week to go ahead and make his day.
Maybe her “Gutsy Woman” book tour really is a soft campaign launch to test the market.
She came closest to declaring her hand Tuesday night in an interview on “PBS NewsHour.”
“So maybe there does need to be a rematch,” she said. “I mean, obviously I can beat him again.”
Newsflash, lady, you lost.
Against all evidence, first lady Chirlane McCray says her $250-million-a-year “ThriveNYC” mental health program is a triumph because it’s made people talk about the topic.
“Thrive is a success because we are talking about mental health,” she told NY1. “Five years ago, we would not even be having this discussion.”
Seriously? Five years and that’s the one achievement she can point to in the wake of the Chinatown murders, which are an indictment of her efforts, or lack thereof.
Let’s leave the final word to the lucky recipient of McCray’s largesse in the form of a multilingual Thrive brochure, homeless man Omar Muhammad Robinson: “It’s just talking,” he told The Post. “We’re still homeless.”
You’d laugh if it weren’t so despicable.