Whitlock: The NBA is a Mini China
Updated: Sep 7
The majority of media members are aggressively questioning any and all athletes deciding to stand for the national anthem. Those athletes are being grilled about their decision relating to standing for the national anthem. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but there's a big hypocrisy with the NBA’s efforts to avoid addressing China’s human rights violations and their questionable NBA camps in China.
Independent minded talk show host and sports journalist Jonathan Whitlock recently touched on these subjects. The NBA’s hypocrisy within the areas of China’s human rights issues, media reporting and free speech were discussed late last week.
“The NBA bubble operating in Orlando is China. The structure is a state-controlled environment, similar to China. The press is afraid of getting on the wrong side of those people in power (NBA). They're living inside that bubble and don't want to be on the wrong side of NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the supreme ruler of the NBA, and they don't want to be on the wrong side Lebron or the bigger NBA power structure. It’s because their survival within that bubble, in their minds, is dependent upon being on the right side of those people. They’re fearful of being cut off from access or testing. Will I get kicked out of the bubble if I'm too difficult as a media member? The NBA bubble is communist China in America. There are certain questions the media can ask and there's certainly questions they're afraid to ask. They basically understand the idea of not asking certain questions. There's no freedom of press in Orlando. Everyone goes along and acts obedient to the power structure of the NBA. It’s all about what they (NBA) are wanting to accomplish. That's a little communist country they have going on down there in Orlando.“
It’s an unintentional plus, even with the media attempting to apply social pressures to players. It is always a positive situation when players, in this instance refusing to kneel, are pushed into providing an explanation for their decisions. Whitlock references Johnathan Isaac’s response for not kneeling, “it’s a Hell of an explanation. I think it's going to drive more discussion with more people talking about ‘why’ they're standing and then forcing others to defend their positions as well.”
In an unintentional way, the media appears to be generating a public a service by sparking a legitimate conversation. The aggressiveness of the media forcing players to defend their decisions is clearly a move based in bias. Was there any hard push for Colin Kaepernick to articulate his reasoning? Of course not. Reporters and media types created, and continue to create, answers for him.
A visible contrast can be found with Jonathan Isaac’s decision to not kneel and the media’s reaction to that choice. “I read some things about Isaac this weekend. People were acting confused about what he said. People were acting like he made no sense. The kid could not have been more crystal clear. His answers were far more thoughtful and communicated more clearly than anything heard from Colin Kaepernick. These questions are going to put players into the spotlight. Are they kneeling out of obedience and fear? At some point, they’re going to question - why am I doing this? Are we really promoting unity or are we just doing this because we're afraid to get on the wrong side of social media backlash?”
“He's (Kaepernick) has never been eloquent in defending his decision to kneel for the national. He’s never given a consistent answer or one that made much sense, but the media passed it off as if he were the second coming MLK”. It’s that hypocrisy frustrating fans and those wanting only to enjoy sporting events.
One of the most confusing personalities in the entire NBA situation is Gregg Popovich.
The Spurs coach was recently given a pass for not kneeling during the national anthem. His answer was short and concise – he was just not going to provide the media an answer. This is a guy critical of President Trump at every turn and every opportunity. The league and Popovich have tirelessly worked to brand coach Popovich as the most ardent Black Lives Matter supporter in the coaching ranks. Then the coach decides to stand up during the national anthem without providing any reasoning or detail? In this instance, the media simply turns and responds by saying it’s his personal decision. It’s a reoccurring hypocritical response on both ends of that relationship.
It seems to be far too easy and acceptable for people such as Kaepernick and Popovich to give convenient and rambling answers when pressed. There are plenty of middle tier players and coaches capable of providing an explanation as to their reasons. It’s those individuals that will further discussions by creating opportunities and topics. The NBA and media coordinate to effectively cancel those players or coaches from the discussion. It has become more obvious, it’s those individuals looking for the media attention that warrant the most skepticism regardless of media framing.
We can only hope the media continues to ask questions to those players or coaches refusing to kneel. Those answers provide an opportunity to hear solid answers the media is not providing for those players or coaches, in the same they do for others.