by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The NBA season begins this week, in the wake of the league’s disgrace kowtowing to the regime in Beijing, in pursuit of an extra increment of revenue.
LeBron James was the latest NBA figure to buckle last week, calling Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, whose quickly deleted pro–Hong Kong tweet started the controversy, “misinformed” and “not educated.”
Our athletes once weren’t so transnational in their orientation, or so willing to toss aside American values, or so deferential to Chinese Communists. In fact, once upon a time, one of the greatest American sports stars of all time risked his career — and his life — to fly dozens of missions against the North Korea forces and their Chinese allies in the Korean War.
The Red Sox slugger was perhaps the greatest hitter to ever live and, in the years of playing time he lost serving his country during two wars, a sterling example of patriotic commitment and a standing rebuke to contemporary sports stars who can’t bear the thought of offending the government and people of a hostile power.
One can only imagine what the famously gruff, profane Splendid Splinter would say about highly paid celebrities bending a knee to the power that, in league with its North Korean partner, tried to shoot him from the sky. …
… Of course, we aren’t at war with China now, but much less is being asked of NBA players than risking life and limb for their country. A little self-respect would go a long way. The example of Teddy Ballgame is a reminder that professional athletes once had a deep connection to their nation, which could take pride in their sacrifices.