The NBA ended its relationship with its Xinjiang basketball academy more than a year ago.
League COO Mark Tatum responded to a letter sent by US Sen. Marsha Blackburn, which was sent to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, and Tatum said that they’ve ended their relationship with China’s basketball academy.
The response was acquired by Sports Illustrated.
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The camp was criticized due to its proximity to camps where the Chinese government has detained around a million Uighur Muslims. Prisoners there have said that their experience has consisted of brainwashing and torture.
In her letter sent to the league, Blackburn said that she was concerned about the league’s interests in China and she talked about Daryl Morey’s “Free Hong Kong” tweet, as well as Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai’s letter, which labeled protesters as a “separatist movement.”
At the end of the latter, Blackburn had three questions for Silver with a July 21 deadline.
- What are the anticipated financial consequences of China Central Television’s (CCTV) continued ban on the airing of NBA games?
- Please outline the scope of the NBA’s relationship with Chinese state-owned enterprise Alibaba.
- The NBA reportedly continues to operate a training center Xinjiang, one of the world’s worst humanitarian zones. What steps is the NBA taking to shutter this location?
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According to Sports Illustrated, Tatum answered the first question by saying that the CCTV’s ban on airing NBA games cost the league hundreds of millions of dollars. The second question touched on the league’s multi-year contracts with Alibaba, which was centered on distributing NBA content on their digital platforms.
And the third question about Xinjiang had a one-sentence reply:
“The NBA has had no involvement with the Xinjiang basketball academy for more than a year, and the relationship has been terminated.”
Apparently, the responses didn’t satisfy Blackburn. She said that Silver wasn’t acknowledging the issue with China, and she said she didn’t like the tone of Tatum’s reply and it didn’t address the conflict between the NBA’s finances and values, which she never asked them to do.
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With that said, Blackburn was happy that the NBA had ended its relationship with the Xinjiang academy.
“It is inconceivable and disrespectful for Commissioner Silver to sidestep an issue that requires real leadership,” Blackburn said in the statement. “The reply from Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum lacks the appropriate concern and responsibility that should accompany congressional correspondence. These technical answers do not address the larger questions about whether there is a conflict between their financial decisions and professed values.
“However, I am pleased that the NBA has publicly admitted for the first time that it has ended its involvement with the Xinjiang academy. I will continue my inquiries into questions about the Uyghurs and the NBA’s corporate partnerships at the appropriate organizational leadership levels.”