Rick Scott: ‘NBA’s refusal to denounce Communist China is shameful’
Sen. Rick Scott.

The Republican Senator claimed NBA commissioner Adam Silver declined to meet.

Sen. Rick Scott claimed Monday afternoon the NBA has declined his request to meet with commissioner Adam Silver.

In a tweet, the Republican senator said NBA officials told him that Silver is on a business trip in Asia.

“Maybe he should make a pit stop in #HongKong to see the people fighting for their autonomy and human dignity,” Scott tweeted.

Two of the NBA’s 30 teams are in Florida: the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. The NBA’s G League also features the Lakeland Magic.

“We must put human rights above profit. And that means standing with #HongKong,” Scott wrote in a previous tweet. “The NBA’s refusal to denounce Communist China is shameful.”

Silver held a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo. He also released the following statement ahead of it:

 “The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say on these issues. We simply could not operate that way.”

Scott said he was the first U.S. senator to travel to Hong Kong after protests started in late March. The demonstrations began in the semi-autonomous city to oppose a proposed law that would allow criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. The protests have since grown into a push for democracy.

Google search shows China is one of the world’s five communist countries. The others are North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba and Laos. There are about 195 total countries worldwide.

“What I saw was devastating,” Scott wrote. “Men and women are risking their lives to fight for the same freedom we take advantage of in this country. As Americans, it is our duty to stand together against injustice, and that means standing up to Communist China and President Xi as he violates the rights guaranteed under the 1997 handover of Hong Kong.

“We must all put human rights above profit. And that means standing with Hong Kong.”

Scott said the NBA should stop playing games in China.

Scott’s request to meet with Silver comes after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey deleted a tweet in support of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement over the weekend.

Morey wrote: “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.”

The NBA has a multibillion-dollar business relationship with China. The New York Times reported tech conglomerate Tencent Holdings — which owns digital streaming rights for the NBA in China — said 490 million people watched NBA programming on its platforms last year.

To give a better context, there are about 329 million people living in the U.S.

Furthermore, Tencent Holdings reported 21 million fans watched Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals. Nielsen measured 18.3 million viewers for the game on the American TV network ABC.

The Rockets are also one of China’s most popular NBA teams. The Chinese Basketball Association — whose president is former Rockets star Yao Ming — and many Chinese television providers suspended ties with the Rockets.

In two follow-up tweets, Morey said his statements do not represent the opinions of the Rockets or the NBA. Team owner Tilman Fertitta refuted Morey’s initial tweet. However, Tilman later said Morey isn’t going to lose his job.

“Listen … @dmorey does NOT speak for the @HoustonRockets. Our presence in Tokyo is all about the promotion of the @NBA internationally and we are NOT a political organization. @espn,” Ferritta wrote.


“Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right as one of our employees,” Silver said during Tuesday’s news conference. “What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.”

State-run TV network CCTV said it would not show the two preseason games between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers. The teams are still scheduled to play Thursday in Shanghai and Saturday in Shenzhen.

Silver is still planning to go to China on Wednesday in advance of the Nets-Lakers games, The Associated Press reported.

“We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression,” CCTV said in a statement. “We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.”

In a tweet Monday, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio accused the NBA of throwing Morey “under the bus to please” the Chinese government.

Rubio sent several more tweets Monday condemning the NBA.

“This is bigger than just the @NBA. It’s about #China’s growing ability to restrict freedom of expression here in the U.S.,” Rubio wrote in one tweet. “TV networks, airlines, hotel chains, retailers & Hollywood already self-censor. Now private citizens risk losing their jobs if they offend China.”

Rubio also criticized the NBA for being the “wokest sports league” by saying “that only applies to speaking out on American politics & social issues,” where citizens are protected by First Amendment rights.

Several other prominent U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have accused the NBA of favoring money over human rights.

Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren who oddsmakers consider the favorite to secure her party’s nomination — also weighed in.

“China is trying to use its market power to silence free speech and criticism of its conduct,” Warren wrote in a tweet. “In response, the NBA chose its pocketbook over its principles—and our values. We should all be speaking out in support of those protesting for their rights.”

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang ripped China’s response to Morey.

“The Chinese government banning the Rockets is a terrible move,” Yang tweeted Sunday morning.

Democratic presidential candidates Julián Castro and Beto O’Rourke also criticized the NBA.

“China is using its economic power to silence critics—even those in the U.S.,” Castro wrote. “The United States must lead with our values and speak out for pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, and not allow American citizens to be bullied by an authoritarian government.

“The only thing the NBA should be apologizing for is their blatant prioritization of profits over human rights,” O’Rourke wrote. “What an embarrassment.”

O’Rourke’s opponent in the 2018 election, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas also ripped the NBA.

“As a lifelong @HoustonRockets fan, I was proud to see @dmorey call out the Chinese Communist Party’s repressive treatment of protesters in Hong Kong. Now, in pursuit of big $$, the @nba is shamefully retreating,” Cruz wrote. “We’re better than this; human rights shouldn’t be for sale & the NBA shouldn’t be assisting Chinese communist censorship.”

Given the financial stakes, the reaction from Morey’s tweet is unlike other issues the NBA has experienced in Silver’s nearly five-year tenure as commissioner. It includes:

— Significant financial growth and reaching new labor agreements with the National Basketball Players Association without work stoppages.

— Expelling Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling in April 2014. Sterling was caught making racist remarks on tape.

— Silver announcing his support of legalized and regulated sports betting in November 2014.

— Moving the All-Star Game out of Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2017 because of the state’s transgender bathroom bill.

— The league banning the term “owner” — as in team owner — because some people consider it racially insensitive.

The NBA regular season is scheduled to tipoff on Oct. 22.


Mark Bergin is a freelance journalist. He’s worked as a writer for 10News WTSP in St. Petersburg and WBIR 10News in Knoxville, Tennessee. Bergin has covered the Tampa Bay Rays’ stadium negotiations, the 2018 midterm elections, Tampa Bay’s transportation issues and city/county government. You can follow his work on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram. Reach him by email at [email protected].

Guest Author


  • Sonja Fitch

    October 8, 2019 at 4:11 pm

    RICKSCOTT. Really? The RICKSCOTT that supports Evil
    Trump.,,,that RICKSCOTT. Lol

  • Linda

    October 8, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    And Rick Scott’s refusal to denounce Trump is so much more shameful!!!!

  • Jane

    October 8, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Pathetic communists Linda & Sonja always have such interesting comments! Ugh!

Comments are closed.


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