Sen. Josh Hawley wrote a letter to NBA commissioner Adam Silver on Friday calling on the league to consider supporting police, U.S. military and Hong Kong protesters on team jerseys.
The NBA and its players’ union announced plans last week to wear social justice messages on the back of their jerseys, including “I Can’t Breathe” and “Anti-Racist.” The league also has plans to paint “Black Lives Matter” on the courts in Orlando, Florida, when play resumes July 30.
The 40-year-old Hawley, R-Mo., tweeted Friday: “If @NBA is going to put social cause statements on uniforms, why not “Support our Troops” or “Back the Blue”? Or given how much [email protected] makes in #China, how about “Free Hong Kong”! Today I wrote to Adam Silver to ask for answers.”
Hawley added in the letter, “Let your players stand up for the people of Hong Kong. Let them stand up for American law enforcement if they choose. Give them the choice to write ‘Back the Blue’ on their jerseys. Or ‘Support our Troops.’ Maybe ‘God Bless America.’ What could be more American than that?”
Hawley told Silver, “You have crossed the line of sanctioning specific political messages.”
He took particular aim at the NBA’s support of China, calling the league’s response last fall of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters a “shameful display” and its subsequent public response “offensive nonsense.” Hawley sent a letter to Silver last October criticizing the league’s decision to side with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“Given the NBA’s troubled history of excusing and apologizing for the brutal repression of the Chinese Communist regime, these omissions are striking,” Hawley wrote Friday. “Free expression appears to stop at the edge of your corporate sponsors’ sensibilities. And for woke capital today, profits from the Chines market are more popular than patriotism.”
Hawley ended the letter asking the NBA to answer five questions by July 29 related to its stances on China and whether players will be censored over which issues they support.
Messages made by USA TODAY Sports to the NBA league office were not immediately returned Friday morning.
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