Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Tom Cotton wants a Warriors co-owner forced out after he said that people don’t really care about atrocities against Uyghur Muslims in China.
Chamath Palihapitiya has clarified his comments, but he has not issued a full apology.
Republicans have assailed the NBA over how it manages its relationship with China.
Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Arkansas, called on the NBA to force Warriors co-owner Chamath Palihapitiya to sell his stake in the franchise following Palihapitiya’s recent comments that “nobody cares about what’s happening” to Uyghur Muslims in China.
“The NBA has investigated owners and forced a sale after outrageous comments before, and it even moved the All-Star game to protest a North Carolina law saying boys and girls shouldn’t use the same bathroom,” Cotton said in a statement. “The league will prove itself greedy, spineless, and hypocritical if it doesn’t force Palihapitiya to sell his interest in the Warriors.”
Palihapitiya, a billionaire investor who owns a 10% stake in the franchise, said during an episode of the “All-In” podcast that he was telling a “very hard ugly truth” about how little people care about how Chinese authorities are treating Uyghur Muslims. Human Rights Watch and other international watchdogs have documented repeated atrocities against Uyghurs, including forced labor, sexual violence, torture, and murder. Beijing, which has a history of not being truthful about its human rights record, has denied any such claims.
After an immense backlash, Palihapitiya clarified his remarks but stopped short of a full apology.
Cotton’s demands lean on aggressive actions the league has made before against ownership. The league charged Clippers Owner Donald Sterling with damaging his reputation in 2014 after a series of racist comments, including some directed at Lakers legend Magic Johnson. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver banned Sterling, who had owned the team for decades, from the league and set in motion a process that forced the team’s sale.
The NBA also moved its 2017 all-star game out of North Carolina after the state passed a controversial bill that limited transgender people’s use of public restrooms. The professional basketball league was far from the only entity to distance itself from the state.
Top players and league officials view China as a key market for the game’s future. The NBA’s relationship with China became an intense focus for GOP lawmakers in 2019 after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted support for protesters in Hong Kong.
President Biden signed into law last year bipartisan legislation that bans the import of products made by Chinese companies in the region where atrocities against Uyghurs are being committed.
Politics, Sports, Tom Cotton, NBA
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