Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang was one of the public figures that condemned China’s decision to ban the Houston Rockets and block the broadcast of NBA games after General Manager Daryl Morey posted a now-deleted tweet supporting pro-democracy Hong Kong protestors, and it appears he isn’t stopping there.
In a Thursday statement to The Hill, the 44-year-old serial entrepreneur again criticized China’s decision to blacklist the NBA, calling it “ridiculous.”
“The Chinese government banning NBA games because of a deleted tweet by a franchise employee is ridiculous,” Yang said. “The main losers would be the Chinese fans who would find another way to watch the games. The NBA should feel confident in its position and stand up for the free speech rights of its employees.”
Per Rockets Wire, fellow Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren also slammed the NBA for its response to Morey’s tweet.
“China is trying to use its market power to silence free speech and criticism of its conduct,” she tweeted. “In response, the NBA chose its pocketbook over its principles — and our values. We should all be speaking out in support of those protesting for their rights.”
Since 2002, when Houston drafted Yao Ming No. 1 in the NBA Draft, the Rockets have drawn a large portion of Chinese fans, which is likely why the NBA appears to be taking China’s side. Regardless, the incident has sparked controversy over the role the league is playing in their relationship with China, with many suggesting it is turning a blind eye to the country’s censorship and human rights abuses in the name of revenue.
Although NBA Commissioner Adam Silver defended Morey’s tweet, the incident spotlighted the NBA’s approach to fans that hold signs criticizing China during the preseason NBA games. In the incidents that were posted to social media, the individuals captured on video were stripped of their signs.
As for Yang, he hasn’t been shy about commenting on his thoughts on his favorite NBA teams. He also congratulated professional wrestlers Chris Jericho and Cody Rhodes for the launch of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), which earned him a shout-out from Jericho, who is the current AEW World Champion.
“I guess I’m part of the Yang Gang,” he said after saying he would “vote” for Yang in a hypothetical battle royale wrestling matchup.
Yang is currently in sixth place in the polls and set to appear in both the October and November DNC presidential debates. He is running a campaign that focuses on the incoming job losses due to automation and the necessity of a universal basic income (UBI) to adapt to this shifting economic landscape.