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Basketball: NBA and China controversy

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw Nelson Mandela once reputedly said that sport and politics do not mix. This is something that the NBA (National Basketball Association), the Men’s Professional Basketball League in North America, is currently finding out to be true to their financial cost. All because of a tweet about the continuing political unrest in Hong Kong. On 5 October 2019, Daryl Morey, General Manager of the ‘Houston Rockets’, tweeted, then deleted, in support of the protests as follows: “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.” This immediately set off what has been described as “a geopolitical firestorm.” The Chinese Government, the Chinese Basketball Association, and two Sponsors - Li-Ning and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank - announced that they were halting their relationships with the NBA and the Rockets specifically. In response, the NBA issued statements in English and Mandarin distancing themselves from this tweet. However, the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, rather than calming the situation, added fuel to the firestorm by stating that: “…we are not apologising for Daryl exercising his freedom of expression.” Basketball is very popular in China – with some 500 million fans and 300 million participants - and also very lucrative - worth more than $US 4 billion. So, hopefully, this firestorm will blow over in due time. However, the general lesson to be learned from this affair is that cultural differences must be respected at all times - particularly in sport that raises so many passions and social issues! Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  
The Journal

Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports feature: articles; comparative surveys; commentaries on topical sports legal and tax issues and documentation.

The unique feature of Global Sports Law and Taxation Reports is that this Journal combines for the first time up to-date valuable and must-have information on the legal and tax aspects of sport and their interrelationships.

The Editors

The editors of  the Journal Sports Law & Taxation are Professor Ian Blackshaw and Dr Rijkele Betten, with specialist contributions from the world's leading practitioners and academics in the sports law and taxation fields.

The Editors

Managing editor
Dr. Rijkele Betten

Consulting editor
Prof. Dr. Ian S. Blackshaw

Editorial board

Prof. Guglielmo Maisto
Maisto e Associati, Milano

Dr. Dick Molenaar
All Arts Tax Advisors, Rotterdam


Mr. Kevin Offer
Hardwick & Morris LLP, London

Mr. Mario Tenore
Maisto e Associati, Milano


Nolot BV
St. Jorisstraat 11
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