Do you hear the people sing?
Coronavirus has China clamoring for free speech; the NBA could own the issue.
BY HENRY ABBOTT
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could never have seen it coming. Through a crazy series of events last fall, somehow he, an American sports executive, starred in a global brouhaha over the freedom of speech in the wake of Daryl Morey’s infamous, now deleted, tweet.
In the months since, the league has lived in some bizarro middle ground:
In Silver’s estimation, the league is giving up hundreds of millions of dollars (in lost revenues from CCTV and other partners in China), perhaps the world’s biggest ever cash penalty for promoting and defending free speech.
Without promoting and defending free speech in any meaningful way.
But! A surprise: Right now China is, more than in any modern time, upending assumptions about freedom of speech because of the coronavirus. Could this be an opportunity for the NBA to seize the initiative?