You said you wanted peaceful protest

After the Jacob Blake shooting in Wisconsin, and the resulting chaos and gun-toting teenage vigilantes (2020, ladies and gentlemen) we may not have a conclusion to the NBA season:

The Los Angeles Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers, led by superstar LeBron James, reportedly voted to boycott the rest of the NBA playoffs.

According to Shams Charania, lead NBA writer for The Athletic, James walked out of a hastily-called players meeting when other team representatives said they would not join.

However, Mr. Charania reported, other players realize that even if just those two teams boycott the season, enormous problems would be created in finishing the playoffs.

“Sources: Miami’s Udonis Haslem spoke and essentially told everyone in room that — without Lakers and Clippers, how will season continue? LeBron James walked out. Rest of Lakers and Clippers exited behind him,” Mr. Charania wrote.

The Lakers and Clippers were the two best teams in the Western Conference during the regular season and were poised to win their first-round series in the next day or two.

In theory the NBA season could continue without the Los Angeles teams, but I don’t see how it actually goes ahead without the Lakers and the league’s marquee player, Alex Caruso LeBron James.

Will this players’ strike (not a “boycott,” as the media insists on calling it) actually bring about changes to American policing and racial inequality? I don’t know. But if you’ve been saying you want peaceful protest instead of rioting and looting you should be all in favor of this non-violent action. Right?


And, yes, the elephant in the room when the NBA deals with social justice issues is China. Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, was slapped down by his bosses and colleagues – including LeBron James – for his own non-violent stand in support of human rights in that country. When pressed about the NBA’s relationship with Communist China, basketball executives deflect like Republicans confronted about the proliferation of guns.

But China’s crimes against humanity don’t make America’s problems with race and policing any less serious, and doesn’t make this players’ protest any less legitimate. And who knows? Young Chinese NBA fans may notice that games aren’t being played anymore, and the reason for this, and ask themselves why Americans can so publicly protest their country while they are not allowed.

(That’s the best-case scenario. Because everything in 2020 is terrible, I can easily foresee a worst-case scenario in which Chinese sponsors and broadcasters demand an immediate end to the players’ strike because it’s hurting their bottom line.)

UPDATE: from today’s Washington Post. I don’t think so…

Dance for your Renminbi, NBA

In contrast to the Kaepernick-free NFL, the National Basketball Association and its players are outspoken about pressing social issues. Unless it’s about pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, when it breaks like a cheap toy purchased on AliExpress.

The controversy erupted after Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, one of the most popular U.S. basketball teams in China, appeared to support Hong Kong demonstrators in a tweet late Friday. While the message was deleted and both Morey and the National Basketball Association tried to distance themselves from it, the damage reverberated across both China and the U.S.


The NBA tried to limit the damage, saying in a statement that Morey’s comments were “regrettable.”

“We have great respect for the history and culture of China and hope that sports and the NBA can be used as a unifying force to bridge cultural divides and bring people together,” the NBA said.

In the Chinese version of the statement, it added a further comment: “We are deeply disappointed about Morey’s inappropriate comment and he undoubtedly has hurt Chinese fans’ feelings severely.”

The NBA’s response echoed the cautious approach other companies have been taking in an effort not to offend China, but it immediately generated protests from U.S. politicians.

Cruz, a Texas Republican and longtime Rockets fan, tweeted that the NBA “is shamefully retreating” and said he was “proud” to see Morey’s original comment. Both Democratic presidential candidates from Texas also blasted the NBA, with Beto O’Rourke calling the apology “an embarrassment” and Julian Castro saying the U.S. can’t allow American citizens “to be bullied by an authoritarian government.”

Stand by for the inevitable Trump tweet about this, even though he’s done his own rolling over for China behind closed doors.

Flashback: Canada’s Cirque du Soleil boycotted North Carolina because of its homophobic “bathroom bill,” but kept performing in Russia and Dubai.