After Vice President Mike Pence expressed his disappointment with the NBA for siding with China on the issue of government censorship, former NBA player Charles Barkley told Pence to “shut the hell up,” according to Fox News.
Pence described the NBA as acting like a “wholly owned subsidiary” of China’s communist government, after the organization went out of its way to apologize to China for a team manager who tweeted in support of the pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, who are being violently suppressed by the government.
Appearing on a panel with several others, including NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Barkley claimed that the NBA’s actions were justified since “all American companies are doing business in China,” while also declaring that “there are consequences” for speaking out against China’s authoritarian regime. He also tried to compare President Trump’s trade war with China to the same kinds of business dealings that the NBA has with the Communist country.
The controversy started when Daryl Morey, manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted in support of the Hong Kong protesters, only to be reprimanded by the Rockets’ owner Tilman Fertitta, and the NBA itself.
Since then, others who have come to Morey’s support include NBA legend Shaquille “Shaq” O’Neal, as well as numerous political figures from both parties, including Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-Texas).