Stay In Your Lane – Jr. Williams Danial
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde
The LeBron James presser where he alluded to Houston Rockets’ GM Daryl Morey not being fully informed on the Hong Kong situation was a bust. First, people wanted him to speak because he makes the most money from China but then they didn’t like him throwing Morey under the bus. I cannot defend either one. Morey’s not a friend of James so there’s no love lost. James was roasted all over the media for not having Morey’s back so the message was clear.
Stay in your lane.
In an Adam Silver press conference following James’ the NBA clarified its position. Silver admitted that the Chinese government wanted Morey fired immediately but that he relayed the message Morey wouldn’t even be disciplined. Silver and the NBA did the right thing, it just happened at the wrong time. Again, if this is the start of squashing dissent, Silver and the NBA are having none of it. That’s great on the American business model scale.
I’m not necessarily sure that Morey won’t be gone. I fully expect that within the year, Morey will ‘resign’ for another opportunity. Since he’s a numbers guy that won’t be hard. I just can’t see how it’ll be avoided. Costing the Rockets money is one thing.
Costing the league money is another. I’ve never seen anyone cost their bosses the opportunities for billions of dollars and keep their job. This is the land of the free and the home of the paid. America is a lot of things and they tolerate even more. Aberrant behavior has a way of being normalized.
What’s unusual is that Morey wasn’t out of line in expressing his beliefs, freedom of expression is a hallmark of American democracy. It’s not even unusual for James to criticize what Morey said or Morey’s understanding of the facts. Part of James’ complaint was the wish that Morey had waited to make his statement. James wished Morey had waited until the players sent over to China for exhibition games were back in the states before Morey spoke. But it was more than that.
Part of this is the American belief that we’re supposed to side with our own, right or wrong. We defend the right to do wrong to the death. Our own political culture is rife with examples. Tacitly though is the implication that James was to defend Hong Kong and thereby Morey. People conflated the idea that because the people in Hong Kong are of color, James should immediately be empathetic if not sympathetic.
That would have given Morey’s words both weight and cover. James didn’t do that. His stance was similar to Muhammad Ali’s, “Ain’t no Viet Cong ever called me nigger”. James was doing what any business man would do under the circumstances, protecting his interest. What anyone expected him to do is still unclear.
It is all about the money, isn’t it? The blow back James faced is interesting because he was literally on the knife’s edge. He was almost required to speak as the face of the NBA. He makes the most money in China. He was by default required to side with the NBA and Morey, even if he had no idea why Morey chose that opportunity to speak.
Add in that he’s only thirty four. Nope, no excuses. Just facts. Nothing James could have or would have said would have been enough. Such is one’s lot if they’re the face of anything.
A no comment rarely suffices. Yet, given the state of politics here and abroad, one really has to question what was Morey thinking? Put aside the notion that he endangered his boss’ long term money. Has anyone bothered to see the politics of the US or even the state of Texas? It’s outrageous to think that Morey couldn’t put his Twitter account to better use espousing anything political.
International politics? Really? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. So now there’s a big brouhaha about the position the NBA has taken on this. An American sports organization versus the Chinese government.
Talk about the ultimate business David versus Goliath. I think it’s hilarious that some in the media expect the NBA to both capitulate and win. In a business sense, yeah that will happen. Once Morey leaves, it’ll be forgotten. The NBA is a business first and foremost.
In capitalism, the only way to grow is to initiate the uninformed. In basketball terms, the Chinese qualify. In spite of a population of almost two billion people, no Chinese player stands out here or in Europe. The Chinese are not Olympic powers, they’re not international powers and they have zero players in the pipeline. They never really even play well against relatively weak competition.
Part of this is that the Chinese have no desire to have an international basketball program. The NBA’s major initiative in recruiting non Americans around the world is a program called Basketball Without Borders. BWB is the NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach program . The NCAA and NBA have sent coaches around the world to show how it’s done. The Chinese do not participate.
What does that say about the Chinese’s willingness to be a player on the basketball stage? NBA players also now play in all international competitions because of the growth of the game and skill of the players world wide. Yet China and India rarely have players even though they are two of the most populous nations on Earth. That extends to all international sports. We here in the United States need to calm down.
Stay in your lane.