Wednesday, October 9, 2019

The China-NBA Brouhaha Over a Tweet by the Houston Rockets General Manager

By Robert Wenzel

The National Basketball Association team the Houston Rockets are in China to play some pre-season games in front of a potentially huge market for the NBA, China.

 Upon landing, the general manager of the Hoston Rockets, Daryl Morey, tweeted this out:

He has deleted the tweet.

The tweet was a very dumb thing to do.

First of all, it is not clear what is going on in Hong Kong. It appears it might be protests fueled by outside operators. See: US Caught Red-Handed Meeting Leaders of Hong Kong Protest Groups.

But what is an even bigger mistake for Morley is to send out a tweet when he is in China on official business for the NBA and more specifically the Houston Rockets.

As I have pointed out many times, when we do exchanges, we don't delve into every nook and cranny of a person's life that we are doing an exchange with. That would be silly and impossible.

Likewise, it generally makes sense when doing an exchange on a topic that has nothing to do with politics, to keep politics out of it.

Of course, if you are writing opinion the way I do, it is an entirely different issue. I have lost many readers because of my generally anti-Trump position but I am out here to tell it like it is, not to shade what I see as the truth nor to keep silent about it. That's my business now.

But, it really makes sense when you are working for someone else, or consulting for them, to refrain from mucking up a deal by mouthing off on a topic that has nothing to do with the issue at hand. 

For many years I consulted for a bank that involved some face to face meetings with federal bank regulators. It made absolutely no sense while acting in that position for me to tell the regulators exactly what I thought about their regulations. It would have been an irresponsible thing to do as a consultant for the bank which could have made things even more difficult for the bank.

Morley has made things much more difficult for the Houston Rockets and the NBA with regard to their relationship with China. Trade and exchange has a lot more to do with bringing countries together rather than meddling in the affairs of other countries.

Morely was acting like a kind of mini-me neoconservative. He lands there and thinks he is going to have some kind of influence on the policies in a country of over a billion people, where he doesn't even speak the language. Yeah right.

The more skilled you are at expressing the case for liberty, the more you can get away with saying things in difficult situations. But the default position should be to keep your mouth shut on such issues and Morely is a rank clueless amateur. He shouuldn't have even used his mouth to breathe.

Now what is fun to see is the politically correct super dumb as a rock lefty Commissioner of the NBA, the anorexic Adam Silver, squirm over this incident.

He knows that the owners he represents will not be particularly impressed with damage to a market with a population of 1.4 billion people. At the same time his antennae is telling him that his usually anti-free speech lefty friends are pro-free speech when it comes to mucking up free trade.

Squirm Alan, squirm.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. It certainly is good entertainment.

  2. The high-pocrisy of the NBA has reared it’s head once again. The reason the NBA supports SJW issues is because they think it helps their bottom line, but they try to spin it by presenting itself as a compassionate, concerned corporate citizen that’s horrified by rampant social injustice. The China issue simply confirms the obvious. The “woke” NBA will fall into a deep sleep to protect and/or help its bottom line.

    Where you at Lebron, Popp, Kerr, et al???

  3. Can Daryl Morey the individual be separated from Daryl Morey the GM of the Rockets? Probably not. Management for the likes of the NBA and Disney are better off keeping to business for what ends up in view of their customers. But for some executives that is near impossible without lying.

    If the press were to ask Morey or Silver what they think about the Hong Kong situation should they lie to keep from hurting relations with China? Should they refuse to comment? Probably yes. “I’m sorry, lying media scum but, due to my position with the NBA it is not in my or the NBA’s best interest that I answer the question.”

    When the bottom dropped out of the roaring 2000’s the President Shea Homes sent an email called “Fix Housing First” asking their trade partners to lobby for government to help the home building industry first. I forwarded the email to my personal email and responded as a private individual. My response was very respectful and so was his response back. But these things can take on a life of their own.

    I was accused of calling Shea’s President a Fascist based on the last paragraph of my email to him:

    “What you are asking for is a bailout. Who was for the bailout of the financial industry? How about the auto industry? If you are for fascism/socialism then you are for these bailouts. Just because housing and construction are the industries that we make our living in doesn’t mean that I am for collectivisms. I am for freedom. The more government the less freedom and vice versa. It’s our choice.”

    The accusation was at a Trade Partner meeting that I did not attend so I missed the opportunity to clarify my statement. Even though my response was as a private individual, my individuality could not be extracted from the company I was working for. We did not lose business due to my remarks but you can see how not keeping your mouth shut can damage your bottom line. There is a fine line between keeping your philosophical integrity and dealing with customers. Part of the overall burden of the businessman.

    I assume that the decisions on how the NBA deals with China involve a relatively large number of individuals so there are many philosophical outlooks that muddy the message. Morey’s tweet incident has prompted them to clarify that they expect to lose very few customers and gain billions by cowing to the Chinese gang.

  4. I lament the politicization of everything these days. I agree with RW; in the appropriate setting, try to persuade folks about liberty, but in other settings, just get on with your life and try to ignore states.

  5. Funny cause this is the same NBA that a few years ago pulled the All Star game out of Charlotte NC because of former Governor Pat McCroy's transgender bathroom bill. It was taking a stand for human rights we were told. I guess Chinese citizens are not afforded their time and effort for 'human rights'

  6. I've never understood this position. Imagine Company Death's mission statement is to destroy Jones at all costs. Jones would be an idiot to shop there, regardless of Company Death's prices or service.

    What RW is describing here is being a rat. The rat gets the cheese, regardless the circumstance. He's Templeton in Charlotte's Web. Whatever. I'm all for boycotting China completely even though the Chinese people I've met and done business with seem like very nice and honorable people.