The National Basketball Association quietly backtracked its policy that forbade the text "FreeHongKong" on custom jerseys on its online store after severe blowback.
As the Washington Free Beacon reported Monday, the NBA did not allow the phrase on custom jersey orders but permitted a variety of other phrases, including anti-Semitic messages. As of Tuesday morning, however, "FreeHongKong" is allowed on jerseys.
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Public perception of the NBA has taken a hit in the past week, as ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski emailed a profane message to Sen. Josh Hawley (R., Mo.) after the senator sent an open letter expressing concern about the NBA's ties with China. NBA superstar LeBron James voiced support for Wojnarowski after ESPN suspended the reporter over the email.
"The truth is that your decisions about which messages to allow and which to censor—much like the censorship decisions of the CCP—are themselves statements about your association's values," Hawley's statement reads. "If I am right—if the NBA is more committed to promoting the CCP's interests than to celebrating its home nation—your fans deserve to know that is your view."