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Hawley Rips NBA’s Weak Response to Criticisms Over Its Submission to China

'This is big-time money for the NBA, and I think we do deserve to know exactly what they’re making...'

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., is ramping up efforts to force the NBA to testify before Congress over its corrupt kowtowing to China.

An ESPN investigation published this week found that coaches throughout the NBA’s Chinese academies complained to executives that their Chinese counterparts were physically abusing young players, failing to provide schooling, and taking advantage of the NBA’s financial position.

One of these academies was located in Xinjiang, a region in China known for its concentration camps, where more than a million Uighur Muslims are held captive. A former league employee told ESPN that the environment was like “World War II Germany.”

The NBA, however, has refused to denounce China or even agree to close its academies in the Xinjiang region.

And when Hawley asked the NBA whether its players would be punished for speaking up about China’s human rights abuses, or whether the organization as a whole would “publicly condemn any attempt by the Chinese Communist Party to silence or punish these individuals,” the NBA’s chief operating officer and deputy commissioner, Mark Tatum, refused to give a direct answer. 

“We are respectfully unable to respond to this hypothetical question, other than to say that values of equality, respect, and freedom of expression have long defined the NBA,” Tatum wrote in a response to Hawley.

“And we support the ability of our players and other team representatives to speak out on issues of public concern that are important to them,” he continued.

Hawley called the NBA’s response a “joke” and said it “reads like lawyers in Beijing drafted it.”

He then reiterated that it’s time for NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to testify before Congress:

“This is big-time money for the NBA, and I think we do deserve to know exactly what they’re making,” Hawley said. “And we deserve to have them explain to us why they won’t stand up to this authoritarian regime.”

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