The NBA will be fine in China

elerphant Thunder6:10 am Wed Oct 14 EDT Removed

The wall-to-wall coverage of the China situation in here has been understandable but a little exasperating. The NBA is going to be fine in China. Everybody is focusing on Chinas financial leverage over the league (which certainly exists) but nobody seems to be talking about how the leagues popularity in China gives the NBA significant leverage of its own. Chinas leadership has been walking a delicate line, propping up its own popularity and legitimacy by doling out Western-style luxuries to a burgeoning middle class, paid for by cozying up to Western corporate interests. Severing ties with the league poses a risk to them in that access to the NBA is a part of the governments case for how successful the government has been, and taking it away can breed resentment. It also contributes to a climate where Western business increasingly questions the real value of investment in China. China took a gamble that they could strike hard and the NBA would back down. It looked like it was going to work until the US had its own backlash, and now here we are. Silver saves face by going 180 on the NBAs initial reaction, China saves face by cracking down harder in response. The open question is how they smoothly transition the league back in, but Chinas leadership knows that its in its medium-term interest to do so, and theyre nothing if not practical. Longer-term, of course, China is trying to parlay all of this into global dominance, and when they do actually get to that point Morey disappears and the rest of us have to write posts about how awful he was the whole time.