In 2018, Laura Ingraham told LeBron James to “shut up and dribble.” It was a dismissive, rude, and condescending comment. James, justifiably, refused to do so.

James, the NBA, and many of its players and coaches have been outspoken on many issues relating to domestic policy in this country. Good for them. Debate on issues should always be welcome. 1

Recently, however, when it comes to criticism of the Communist regime in China that violently puts down dissent, oppresses ethnic and religious minorities, and censors speech, it seems James and the NBA have decided to follow Ingraham’s suggestion.

The NBA is popular in China. China is a massive market. It appears that making a massive amount of money is more important than discourse to James and the NBA as a whole. The NBA is holding exhibition games in China this week. But after Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey sent out a tweet supporting freedom in Hong Kong, the Chinese government has shut down many of the NBA’s planned activities in the country.

The oppressive regime allowed the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets to play their scheduled game today, but they insisted none of the players or coaches or other personnel speak with the media. The NBA acquiesced.

They shut up. They dribbled.

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  1. Whether or not such comments affect the popularity of the NBA is a separate question.