The National Basketball Association (NBA) is facing damaging reports this week after it’s been revealed that child abuse in China was ignored by league leadership. The NBA has some very deep roots in communist China. The league makes an enormous amount of it’s revenue from the Asian market and new evidence shows league officials knew about child abuse at youth camps hosted there. Officials from three different basketball academies reported the abuse to the NBA but the programs continued.
The American basketball association has an arm that operates overseas called NBA China. NBA China represents a $5 billion enterprise and the entire organization has been restructuring to orient itself around the Asian market. Nearly all of the merchandise for NBA teams is made in the country. Everything from jerseys, stuffed animals, hats, t-shirts, and sneakers are all made in China.
The close relationship with China came under scrutiny in October when the owner of the Houston Rockets posted a message supporting Hong Kong protests. The league quickly reacted and targeted owner Daryl Morey. People in the US audience suddenly caught a glimpse of the league’s newfound love for China, and watched as they stifled a Texan for speaking freely. The NBA’s damage control and the pandemic that followed shortly after buried the story.
However, not everyone has forgotten about Chinese influence in the NBA. Three officials who came forward to talk about the abuse taking place in Chinese NBA academies are getting attention. The coaches say young players were being abused and that the schools weren’t providing any schooling at all.
The main offending academy is located in Xinjiang, a northern province of China that’s home to concentration camps. The region is widely known to be home of sites where the Chinese communist government brings ethnic Uyghurs to be “re-educated.” It’s likely that the camp in the area is part of the program for reprogramming dissenting people.
The Chinese basketball academy program began in 2016. The NBA says it wanted to develop local players in the basketball-obsessed market. Most employees who participated in the program have had to speak out as whistle-blowers, protecting their identities. China is notoriously harsh on critics of it’s despicable tactics and the first-hand witnesses are undoubtedly aware of how much danger they’re in.