If you thought the NBA was popular only in the United States, here is a pleasant little surprise: Basketball is gaining a strong following in countries like the United Kingdom, India, and especially China. More than 800 million people watch NBA games in China alone!
Recently though, a controversial tweet got people thinking about where sports end and politics begin. The story started when the Houston Rockets’ general manager, Daryl Morey, tweeted in support of the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong. Chinese officials found the comment disrespectful to the people in China, and they threatened to retaliate by canceling multimillion-dollar contracts between the NBA and Chinese advertisers. The first NBA game was a blackout (or not telecast) in China to give a clear signal to the NBA. Even though the Houston Rockets said the comment by Morey did not reflect the beliefs of the organization, the basketball community has been vocal with its reactions. Some fans believe that players and managers should be able to say what they want as part of their right to freedom of speech. Others believe that politics and sports are separate, and that professional athletes and managers should be sensitive with their comments.
If you were the manager of the Houston Rockets, what would you do?