On October 4th, the General Manager of the Houston Rockets basketball team shared a message on Twitter. It was which was an image with the words: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”
The post was almost immediately deleted, but not before it caught the attention of Chinese authorities who began threatening huge sanctions on the Houston Rockets and on the NBA. The NBA quickly went into damage control mode with various officials profusely apologizing for this one tweet; and even the world’s biggest NBA star, LeBron James suggested Morey was uniformed and uneducated about the situation in Hong Kong.
What has unfolded between China and the NBA is to my mind one of the biggest stories of the last several years because it is such a blatant demonstration of the power that both the Chinese communist party and middle class consumers in China have over large western companies — and that they are willing to use that power to punish and deter free speech outside of China.
On the line with me to talk discuss what this incident with the NBA says about China’s global reach, the future of freedom of expression, and the future of capitalism is Derek Thompson. He is a staff Writer at the Atlantic and host of the CRAZY/GENIUS podcast.