NBA Ended Relationship with Basketball Academy in China, Says Mark Tatum —

David Zalubowski/Associated PressNBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum responded to Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s letter to Commissioner Adam Silver questioning why the league had a training center in Xinjiang, China, a region where the Chinese government is reportedly detaining around a million Muslim Uyghurs in concentration camp-like conditions. “The NBA has had no involvement with the…

NBA Ended Relationship with Basketball Academy in China, Says Mark Tatum —

David Zalubowski/Associated Press

NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum responded to Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s letter to Commissioner Adam Silver questioning why the league had a training center in Xinjiang, China, a region where the Chinese government is reportedly detaining around a million Muslim Uyghurs in concentration camp-like conditions. 

“The NBA has had no involvement with the Xinjiang basketball academy for more than a year, and the relationship has been terminated,” Tatum wrote in a response letter to Blackburn, per Ross Dellenger of SI.com. 

Blackburn released the following statement in response (h/t ESPN):

“China is responsible for some of the greatest human rights violations of our time. The NBA’s decision to abandon its footprint in Xinjiang, where millions of Muslim Uyghurs have been brutally confined in ‘reeducation camps,’ is the right way to condemn Chinese oppression and should motivate other American corporations to decry such atrocities. Making money and standing up for human rights should not be mutually exclusive.”

In the original letter, Blackburn also asked Silver about China Central Television banning NBA games after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey expressed a message of public support for Hong Kong protesters in October, and the league’s relationship to Chinese state-run corporation Alibaba.

Brooklyn Nets governor Joseph Tsai is the founder and executive vice chairman of Alibaba. 

Tatum estimated in his response the television ban has cost the NBA “hundreds of millions” of dollars, per Dellenger, and that the league’s multi-year contract with Alibaba “primarily concerns the distribution of NBA content on Alibaba’s digital platforms in China.”

Blackburn expressed displeasure about the response in general and that Tatum—who asked all further inquiries to be directed to him, not Silver—was the one who responded:

“It is inconceivable and disrespectful for Commissioner Silver to sidestep an issue that requires real leadership. 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.”

A number of Republicans have publicly targeted the NBA’s relationship with China, including Sens. Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz and President Donald Trump.

CSPAN @cspan

President Trump on NBA and China: “I thought it was pretty sad actually.” https://t.co/Y7AhigEfWe

There has been less consternation from prominent Republicans about the business ties and relationships other sporting leagues have with China such as the NFL, NHL and MLB, though the NBA’s financial foothold in China is greater. 

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