Mark Cuban, the owner of the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) Dallas Mavericks and an entrepreneur known for his role on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” defended the NBA’s business with China during a podcast interview with Megyn Kelly released earlier this week.
Kelly pressed Cuban to specifically condemn the Chinese government for their human rights abuses, such as those against the Uyghur population or pro-democratic protesters in Hong Kong, but Cuban tried to dodge the question, broadly saying that he “is against all human rights violations.”
“Including China, Mark?” probed Kelly.
“Yes, including China. Any human rights violations anywhere are wrong,” he replied.
Cuban emphasized that he did not want to focus on China’s “domestic policies,” but would rather focus on actions the U.S. can take, including expanding the number of refugees allowed into the country.
— The Megyn Kelly Show (@MegynKellyShow) October 12, 2020
“Why would the NBA take $500 million-plus from a country that is engaging in ethnic cleansing?” asked Kelly.
“Basically you’re saying that nobody should do business with China ever?” asked Cuban.
Kelly pushed Cuban further for a direct response, to which he finally replied, “Because they are a customer.”
“They are a customer of ours, and guess what, Megyn? I’m okay with doing business with China. I wish I could solve all the world’s problems [. . .] but we can’t. So we have to pick our battles.”
Last week, the state-run broadcaster in China announced that it would resume airing NBA games after a year-long ban following a tweet that stirred controversy from Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey.
Morey had tweeted out a photo saying, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong,” but he later deleted the tweet and apologized for it.
Likewise, the league issued a formal apology for Morey’s tweet.
This fall, the NBA Finals have had the lowest number of viewers in the association’s history.
Some have argued that the politicization of the sport, approving of Black Lives Matter (BLM) messaging and permitting players to wear the phrase on jerseys and kneeling during the national anthem, has contributed to the low viewership.
Cuban said during the interview that he “didn’t think it has anything to do with politics.”
He also defended the recent politicization and supported the BLM messaging, arguing against Kelly’s claim that BLM was tied to radical policies to defund the police.
Cuban contended that “BLM the hashtag [. . .] is different from BLM the movement” and that the views of the founders are different from the wider movement.
Outside of the interview with Kelly, Cuban has also been engaged in a feud with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) over the same issues of the politicization of the NBA and refusing to criticize the Chinese government for committing human rights abuses.
The spat between Cuban and Cruz erupted on Twitter in July after conservative radio talk show host Mark Davis said he was “so ready to be in on this year’s Mavericks home stretch,” but that “the minute one player kneels during the anthem, I am OUT.”
Cuban responded to Davis with a single word: “Bye.”
Cruz then joined the conversation questioning the politicization of the NBA, and the responses between Cruz and Cuban quickly turned to the topic of China.
Cuban indicated he would “criticize China and what they do as it concerns American Citizens,” linking to an interview where he suggested ways to place pressure on the Chinese via regulations in U.S. stock exchanges, but said that he has “never gotten involved in the domestic policies” of other countries.
The feud on Twitter was reignited in early October when Cruz shared an article about the low viewership of the NBA finals game, making use of the hashtag #GoWokeGoBroke.
Cuban fired back claiming that Cruz was “rooting” for the businesses of Texas’ three NBA teams “to do poorly,” but Cruz said that he cheered for the teams but was disgruntled by the politicization.
“You are so full of s—. You haven’t watched a game of the finals, how would you know what is being said or done? Since when is a desire to end racism an insult to anyone or political? And you don’t think using #GetWokeGoBroke is a partisan insult? Again, this is who you are,” said Cuban.
“I wish [Cuban] loved his fans as much as he loves Chinese money,” said Cruz.
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.