Arnold Ahlert / July 2, 2020

NBA Ups the Ante on Virtue Signaling

Players can now literally wear their political opinions on their sleeveless jerseys.

In what might be the wokest expression of the woke politics being thrust into every aspect of American life, the NBA and National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), working in conjunction with sportswear giant Nike, have reportedly reached an agreement that will allow players to replace their last names on the back of their jerseys with statements about “social justice.”

“We’re just trying to continue to shed light on the different social justice issues that guys around our league continue to talk about day in and day out,” Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul, president of the NBPA, told ESPN. “People are saying that social justice will be off of everybody’s mind in Orlando. With these jerseys, it doesn’t go away.”

And while Paul insists players who would rather use their jerseys to raise awareness for other causes or charities not connected to “social justice” will also be accepted, who’s kidding whom? The likelihood of any deviation from progressive orthodoxy is virtually nil. Moreover, this conglomeration of hypocrites, phonies, and useful idiots already made it clear that some social justice issues are “more equal” than others when Daryl Morey, general manager of the NBA’s Houston Rockets, who tweeted support for the Hong Kong protesters standing against the Chinese government, was pressured by the league to retract his statement — lest it offend communist thugs.

Those communist thugs have now made good on their threat to take over Hong Kong, courtesy of a broad new “security” law that criminalizes exactly the same kind of dissent NBA players will embrace when their seasons restarts July 30 in Orlando, Florida. Dissent that inevitably buys into the narrative that America is a systemically racist nation, with an unforgivable legacy of slavery that demands reparations.

Yet once again, China gets a free pass, despite the reality that as many as 3.8 million people there live in slave-like conditions, according to the Global Slavery Index.

As for Nike, an investigation by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) alleges that China’s Uighur minority is making shoes for the company in factory conditions that “strongly suggest” forced labor. The ASPI further alleges this effort represents “a new phase in China’s social re-engineering campaign targeting minority citizens” pointing to a “state-sponsored labour transfer scheme that is tainting the global supply chain.” According to Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, the study’s lead author, “The Chinese government is now exporting the punitive culture and ethos of Xinjiang’s ‘reeducation camps’ to factories across China.”

When Nike was asked about the arrangement? “We are committed to upholding international labor standards globally,” said Nike spokeswoman Sandra Carreon-John, adding that its suppliers are “strictly prohibited from using any type of prison, forced, bonded or indentured labor.”

Nike’s shoes are manufactured at the Qingdao Taekwang Shoes Co. It has been a Nike supplier for more than three decades, producing eight million pairs of footwear per year. According to Kim Jae-min, chief executive of Taekwang, the factory’s South Korean parent company, 600 Uighurs were among 7,100 workers at the plant, and they are there to “offset the local labor shortage, due to increasing number of competing industries for workers in our area.”

Not quite. “Everyone knows they didn’t come here of their own free will,” a fruit vendor in the city told The Washington Post. “They were brought here.”

Thus an obvious question arises: How, exactly, does Nike ensure its products are not produced by forced labor? The bet here is the answer is as simple and damning as accepting the assurances of those in charge, rather than conducting an independent investigation. “Taekwang did not respond to questions about whether the Uighurs were forced to work in the factory under threat of reeducation,” The Washington Post reported.

Perhaps wokeness is selective.

In fact it is. “The guys I talked to were definitely excited,” Paul said. “The reason I’m passionate and excited about it is that it gives a voice to the voiceless. It also gives guys a chance to shine a light on something they are passionate about. Otherwise, they may not have been given a chance to express themselves.”

As weeks of unrelenting protests amply indicate, Americans who champion progressive dogma are not even remotely voiceless, and NBA players and coaches have never refrained from expressing their animus toward America and President Donald Trump. Moreover, the same NBA-NBPA-Nike nexus that wants to “shine a light” on our nation’s shortcomings will conspicuously ignore a Chinese government in charge of what is arguably the most racist nation on earth.

In 2019, former Fox Sports journalist Jason Whitlock explained what this entire charade is really all about. “The NBA answers to Nike,” Whitlock stated. “Nike is a $40 billion business. The NBA is an $8 billion business. President Obama, the basketball President, friendly relationship with the NBA, went to Nike’s headquarters to announce his defense of the TPP.”

Whitlock is referring to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral trade deal that went down in flames when it became apparent that it was far more about serving a globalist agenda than America itself. Tellingly in 2016, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump rightly (if viscerally) likened it to “a rape of our country.”

Thus, NBA wokeness is a response to “a President that won’t cooperate with what Nike wants done,” Whitlock added. “Nike is using the NBA and its leverage over the NBA to go after this guy because they disagree with him about his policies as it relates to trade in China. It’s very simple.”

Less than a year later, this unholy alliance is upping the ante, and fans who simply wish to watch basketball played at a professional level will be forced to endure progressive proselytizing as part of the package. Proselytizing that will also include the league painting “Black Lives Matter” on the sidelines of all three arenas the league will use for the resumption of the 2019-20 season. One comment on Twitter put this contemptible virtue signaling in the proper perspective: “Great so this isn’t the National Basketball Association anymore it’s the ‘Athletic Activists Association’ lmao.”

There is potential for twisted humor to be found here, as one need only imagine the absurdity of the (ahem) color commentary part of an NBA broadcast if an announcer used what is printed on a player’s jersey in lieu of his name to describe that player. To wit:

“Pigs in a Blanket” drives down the lane, and quickly dishes off to “Hands Up Don’t Shoot,” who head fakes before tossing a pass to “Check Your Privilege.” Long shot from the corner … score!

Tragically, reality intrudes. “NBA games will be 94-feet, divisive political rallies,” Whitlock stated regarding this latest development. Toward what end? He says, “We’re going to see a bunch of players far more concerned with building a social media following in China than building a fanbase here in America.”

In other words, despite all the proselytizing, posturing, posing, and pompousness — it’s still all about the money.

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