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Calling basketball fans 'kneelers' goes too far

By Zhang Zhouxiang | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-15 08:07

Jin Ding/China Daily

With the US National Basket Association embroiled in controversy over its support for the protests in Hong Kong, those who did attend the NBA's activities in Shanghai and Shenzhen have been given the nickname "kneelers" on social media. China Daily writer Zhang Zhouxiang comments:

When The Wall Street Journal published a photo of two Chinese fans at one of the events on its cover, some domestic micro bloggers posted a photo of the page and called for people to find "the two traitors".

This is too extreme. The two basketball fans have done nothing but watched a basketball game; How have they become "traitors"?

Houston Rockets' general manager Daryl Morey is wrong for tweeting his support of those calling for an independent Hong Kong. NBA head Adam Silver is wrong because he mistook Morey's tweet in praise of illegal and subversive actions as being "freedom of expression". US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is wrong because he urged the NBA to "stand up to China", trying to make the sporting body a tool for the US administration's narrow political purposes.

Chinese companies and institutions meanwhile are right to suspend cooperation with the NBA because of the above. Nonetheless, that does not negate the right of Chinese basketball fans to watch NBA matches and join NBA activities as long as the activities and contests are simply basketball matches.

Some call for boycotting the NBA, saying it has made a lot of money from Chinese basketball fans. They might have their reasons, but those who choose to watch NBA basketball have their reasons, too. The NBA as a commercial institution is serving them as customers, and people are not "funding the NBA" when they buy tickets for a game.

The NBA is composed of hundreds of basketball players, none of whom has said anything improper about Hong Kong or other domestic affairs of China. James Harden, a basketball star from Houston Rockets, tweeted an apology to the Chinese people after Morey's trouble-making tweet.

Is it really necessary and fair to boycott all these stars only because of the wrongdoings and wrongmindedness of Morey and Silver? The stars have done nothing wrong and they should not pay for the wrongs of their colleague or boss.

Maybe some people will boycott NBA. They can do so, but they need to know that other people have the right to make a different choice.

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