The National Basketball Association (NBA) game schedule came out on Wednesday. This year, the league has opted to not play any games on November 8th, the night of midterm elections to promote voter turnout. Instead, all teams will play the day before on “civic engagement night.” Former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom, a devout Muslim of Turkish heritage, is speaking out against the politics of the league saying that the NBA subliminally encourages votes toward a certain party.
The issue though is, that the #NBA subliminally encourages players to vote for a certain party.
I had coaches lose their jobs over expressing conservative values,
players & staffers who had to hide who they support & vote for or they will get hated on the rest of the season. pic.twitter.com/GzznfABxwx
— Enes FREEDOM (@EnesFreedom) August 16, 2022
RedState has previously reported on Freedom’s appearance on Tucker Carlson where he declared leaked recordings show the NBA is “Run by the Chinese Dictatorship.” Freedom’s abrupt departure from the league is thought to be for his criticisms of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Turkish government, support of Tibet, and speaking about inhumane treatment and ethnogenocide of Uyghur Muslims in China. Republicans took notice. In March, members of the Florida delegation, Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Michael Waltz, Sen. Rick Scott, and others wrote a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver saying,
“… the NBA has continued to overlook the egregious human rights abuses committed by the CCP, allowing the CCP politics to play a significant role in the NBA’s business decisions. The most recent example of which was exemplified with the abrupt end of Enes Kanter Freedom’s NBA career.”
Regarding the “business decisions” referenced, we know that NBA team owners have billions at stake in Chinese business dealings and investments, as reported by ESPN,
The owners had reason to stay quiet: In addition to the money their teams derive from the NBA’s $5 billion business in China, many have significant personal stakes there through their other businesses.
ESPN examined the investments of 40 principal owners and found that they collectively have more than $10 billion tied up in China — including one owner whose company has a joint venture with an entity that has been sanctioned by the U.S. government.
It’s not that the NBA, its owners, and players aren’t interested in activism to protect their Chinese business endeavors. No, they are “leading the way” in sports activism, according to CNN.
There was that time Steph Curry and Carmello Anthony starred in a Spike Lee-directed PSA on gun violence. The creation of the Social Justice Coalition, with former President Barack Obama having a hand in its conception. There is the commonplace kneeling during the National Anthem, and the words “Black Lives Matter” painted on the basketball court where players and coaches were confined to a “bubble” in Orlando during the pandemic-mania of 2020.
The NBA is very interested in activism, just not the kind where you freely express your viewpoints.
In 2017, the NBA pulled an All-Star game from being held in Charlotte, North Carolina, because there was a law passed that transgender people were to use the bathroom of their biological sex. That’s GOOD activism, according to the league.
In 2019, Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image that read, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” causing swift backlash from across the league and its Chinese counterparts until Morey was forced to apologize. That’s BAD activism, per the league. Probably because China boycotted the NBA by not airing games throughout the country following the Morey tweet, and that’s bad for business.
Utah had a bathroom bill this year, Governor Spencer Cox (R) vetoed the bill and the legislature overrode it shortly after. The highest monetary stakes of the battle seemed to be if the NBA would re-locate their 2023 All-Star game from Salt Lake City. It can be confusing to understand the NBA’s influenced politics while they pretend this is all non-partisan civic activity. For example, boycotting the Bejing Olympics is also BAD activism, even though there weren’t acceptable transgender bathroom laws available… or fundamental freedoms.
Bankrupt ethics are normative so long as it’s good for profit. Thus, they have become the thing they loathe: a class-struggle theater acted out by multi-millionaires, corporate greed wrapped in a Marxist pretext, and establishment beneficiaries championing status quo power structures. Of course, they have the moral high ground to tell you to vote and what issues matter — did you think this was a game?