According to an analysis by ESPN, NBA owners have invested $10 billion in China.

The ESPN analysis cites a study conducted by the political consulting firm “Strategy Risks,” which discovered those NBA owners’ ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) make them vulnerable if they ever get on the wrong side of the Chinese government or public.

The NBA has been vocal on many political issues in America, standing against police brutality and in support of Black Lives Matter. CNN even reported in 2020 that the NBA “leads the way” in sports activism.

In 2020, Michael Jordan and his brand pledged $100 million to the social justice movement in the United States, ESPN says. The NBA committed $300 million, and other owners… made similar donations.

However, when it comes to human rights issues in China, the NBA is usually silent, with many coaches, players, and organizations fearing backlash if they ever speak out critically against the CCP.

Former Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey deleted a tweet in support of Hong Kong protesters in 2019 after receiving harsh criticism from within the league. The incident even prompted China to pull NBA games from state-run television.

According to ESPN, NBA games have just returned to China’s state-run television after a nearly three-year absence. Reportedly, NBA owners remained silent throughout the ban because they had good reason to. Many people appear to be heavily invested in the country.

“This is a significant issue and problem that American companies have,” says Robert Kuhn, who ESPN describes as a “longtime adviser to Chinese political leaders and multinational corporations operating in China.”

Kuhn reportedly said:

” It’s a tension between those two poles … to see companies promoting social justice in the U.S. but staying silent on what would be perceived to be far worse issues in China. This is going to be an issue for the rest of our working lives.”

The analysis by Strategy Risks highlighted the Chinese investments of various owners, including NBA legend Michael Jordan, who owns the Charlotte Hornets.

Sacramento Kings co-owner Paul Jacobs, Miami Heat owner Mickey Arison, Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta, and Philadelphia 76ers principal owner Joshua Harris were also highlighted by the analysis as investors in China.

Especially scrutinized was Joe Tsai, a Taiwanese-born, naturalized Canadian citizen and owner of Brooklyn Nets, who holds a Hong Kong passport. Tsai is chairman and co-founder of Alibaba, a Chinese e-commerce company.

ESPN previously covered Tsai’s relationship with the CPP, saying that he “personifies the compromises built into the NBAChina relationship.”

Tsai is said to have 53.5% of his net worth, so a total of $4.5 billion, tied to China. By comparison, Sacramento Kings co-owner Paul Jacobs has more than 30% of his net worth tied to China, according to the analysis.

Memphis Grizzlies owner Robert Pera invested an estimated $369 million in wireless equipment in China of which he is the founder and majority shareholder.

Tilman Fertitta, the owner of the Houston Rockets, is estimated to have $160 million in CCP exposure due to his involvement in a restaurant chain that generates $57 million annually in China.

Sources: Dailywire, Winnipegsun, Espn

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