Adam Silver is standing by NBA employees’ free speech rights, though he doesn’t sound happy about it. “Daryl Morey, as general manager of the Houston Rockets, enjoys that right [to speak his political views] as one of our employees. What I also tried to suggest is that I understand there are consequences from his freedom of speech and we will have to live with those consequences.” He also made sure to emphasize how deeply he “sympathizes” with Chinese companies that angry.
Let’s be clear about what Silver sympathizes with. A Chinese broadcasting company replied to Silver’s statement thus: “We’re strongly dissatisfied and oppose Adam Silver’s claim to support Morey’s right to freedom of expression. We believe that any remarks that challenge national sovereignty and social stability are not within the scope of freedom of speech.” That is, people who are citizens of countries other than China, who speak while in their own countries, should be governed not by the laws of those countries but by the preferences of China. That is the view that Adam Silver sympathizes with.
UPDATE: Ben Thompson makes a rather obvious point, though one I had neglected: The statement by Daryl Morey that so profoundly offended Chinese officials was made on Twitter — which is banned in China. Thompson continues by demonstrating how Chinese censorship works on TikTok, and near the end of the post writes,
The government response is also critical: I already argued that CFIUS should revisit TikTok’s acquisition of Music.ly; the current skepticism around all Chinese investment in the United States should be continued if not increased. Attempts by China to leverage market access into self-censorship by U.S. companies should also be treated as trade violations that are subject to retaliation. Make no mistake, what happened to the NBA this weekend is nothing new: similar pressure has befallen multiple U.S. companies, often about content that is outside of China’s borders (Taiwan and Hong Kong, for example, being listed in drop-down menus for hotels or airlines).