I saw this tweet late last night and suggest reading the whole article because it's actually worse than the tweet suggests, but here are a few highlights:
- The NBA ran into myriad problems by opening one of the academies in Xinjiang, a police state in western China where more than a million Uighur Muslims are now held in barbed-wire camps. American coaches were frequently harassed and surveilled in Xinjiang, the sources said. One American coach was detained three times without cause; he and others were unable to obtain housing because of their status as foreigners
- A former league employee compared the atmosphere when he worked in Xinjiang to "World War II Germany."
- One American coach who worked for the NBA in China described the project as "a sweat camp for athletes."
- Another American coach left before the end of his contract because he found the lack of education in the academies unconscionable: "I couldn't continue to show up every day, looking at these kids and knowing they would end up being taxi drivers," he said.
- The NBA brought in elite coaches and athletic trainers with experience in the G League and Division I basketball to work at the academies. One former coach described watching a Chinese coach fire a ball into a young player's face at point-blank range and then "kick him in the gut."
"Imagine you have a kid who's 13, 14 years old, and you've got a grown coach who is 40 years old hitting your kid," the coach said. "We're part of that. The NBA is part of that."
- "We were basically working for the Chinese government," one former coach said.
- In Xinjiang, players lived in cramped dormitories; the rooms were meant for two people, but a former coach said bunk beds were used to put as many as eight to 10 athletes in a room. Players trained two or three times a day and had few extracurricular activities. NBA coaches and officials became concerned that although education had been announced as a pillar of the academy program, the sports bureaus did not provide formal schooling. When the players -- some as young as 13 -- weren't training, eating or sleeping, they were often left unsupervised.
I don't mean for this to take away from anything the players, or even the league, are doing in America for equality because that's obviously to be commended, but BIG yikes here. Adam Silver gets a ton of credit for being the best commissioner in sports, yesterday he was trending because no NBA players tested positive for COVID and everyone was like "look! Adam Silver figured out how to beat the virus! Let's elect him president!" meanwhile as recently as last year the dude was technically overseeing a goddamn sweatshop where 13 year old boys were stuffed into dorms like sardines and beaten for missing a layup. Not great! If you're going to be the most progressive league in America, again that's a good thing, then it's a bad look and pretty disingenuous to be bending the knee to the Winnie the Pooh fella while he's committing legitimate crimes against humanity. Kinda talking out of both sides of your mouth when you demand equality in America yet have no problem running camps with children in, as one coach said, "World War II Germany."
Also, you know it's pretty fuckin bad if ESPN is reporting this. They're pretty financially tied together with the NBA, that's why every top 10 highlight is a dunk and the league gets pumped like no other. If they're speaking up you know it's probably worse than that article made it seem, which is already really, really bad.
Anyway, WOOO LOVE ADAM SILVER! HE'S THE BEST! SILVER 2020!