The NBA has been in the business of making owners sell for making insensitive comments for some time now. They want to guarantee their owners are projecting the image that the NBA needs to keep its model successful. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) is not an owner, but he was more than happy to issue a statement about Golden State Warriors part-owner Chamath Palihapitiya.
Palihapitiya recently appeared on the All-In podcast and spoke up about the NBA’s ties to China and the enslavement of millions of Chinese Uyghurs under the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) among other topics. As Breitbart News summed up “During his All-In podcast interview, Palihapitiya waved off concerns about China’s ongoing genocide against the Uyghurs, saying, “Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs.” Palihapitiya, the CEO of Societal Capital, which boasts that its call is “solving the world’s hardest problems,” shocked podcast host David Sacks when he dismissed concerns about the enslavement of millions of Chinese Uyghurs because he feels no one cares about them. Palihapitiya went on to add that he has “other priorities to worry about.”
Pretty egregious remarks, are they not? Sen. Cotton took deep offense to this idea. Given his other statements comparing the U.S. to the CCP, it is no wonder he felt this way, either. Calling for the immediate sale of his ownership stake is a sign of just how controversial the statements were to him. “Woke CEO Chamath Palihapitiya said no one cares about the Chinese Communist Party’s mass enslavement, torture, and rape of religious minorities. He may be so callous that he doesn’t care about genocide, but the American people do. The NBA has investigated owners and forced a sale after outrageous comments before, and it even moved the All-Star game to protest a North Carolina law saying boys and girls shouldn’t use the same bathroom. The league will prove itself greedy, spineless, and hypocritical if it doesn’t force Palihapitiya to sell his interest in the Warriors.”
Senator Cotton has some points here. Given the NBA’s track record of forcing sales following other less than admirable statements, and the movement of the All-Star game, it would be hypocritical if they don’t force the sale. However, is Palihapitiya completely wrong in his statement?
The NBA is not the ‘anti-slavery’ machine they try to perpetuate. Boston Celtics center Enes Kanter has been trying to bring the NBA’s love for China to the mainstream for years now. Most of the shoes and clothing are made by companies like Nike and Adidas. These companies operate off sweatshop labor and pay workers pennies on the dollar while charging people hundreds of dollars for these shoes. Nobody bats an eye at those conditions or the prices they charge.
While Palihapitiya might be presenting his statement in an unpolished way, he isn’t too far off the target. The majority of the players could care less how the shoes with their name on them are made, or the conditions they are made in. The NBA could care less about China’s politics, sweatshop labor, the people of Hong Kong, or their freedom as long as the Chinese are willing to pay to host NBA games or broadcast them. The teams could care less as long as the sponsorship checks keep coming.
Palihapitiya lacks empathy for the Chinese people. He lacks tact in how he presents his views. He is a rough individual both in how he speaks and in what he says. Yet nothing he said was incorrect. Nobody cares. Instead, they claim they care by saying some words. They take no action. They cut no contracts. They make no stipulations about their endorsements. They just cash the checks at will. It’s about as useful as “thoughts & prayers” on a social media post. If the NBA wants to force his sale, maybe they need to prove they care with their actions?