NBA Can’t Stop Making Deals With China, Reports Say League Owns 5% Of Fanatics China

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The NBA reportedly struck an undisclosed deal last year to become a partner in Fanatics China, per Sportico.

The joint venture was launched between e-commerce giant Fanatics and private equity firm Hillhouse Capital. The NBA owns about a 5% stake in the venture, which it acquired around the time it was formed.

The goal of the venture is to merge league relationships and the e-commerce expertise of Fanatics with the market expertise of Hillhouse, per the report. Hillhouse was founded by Chinese billionaire Zhang Lei.

The NBA being deep into business with China is nothing new, as it was the first U.S. sports league to establish a footprint in China. The league opened a Hong Kong office in 1992 and launched NBA China in 2008. In addition, the NBA has hosted multiple preseason games in China over the years.

But that doesn’t mean everyone’s on board.

In 2019, then Rockets general manager Daryl Morey tweeted, “Fight for Freedom. Stand with Hong Kong.” The tweet was in support of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong at the time. The tweet proved to be a firestorm for the NBA, as multiple Chinese TV outlets imposed an 18-month blackout of all NBA games. The country lifted its blackout restrictions in March.

With hundreds of millions of people in China consuming NBA content each year across a variety of mediums, commissioner Adam Silver told reporters last week that the Association lost “hundreds of millions of dollars.”

“Others since then have spoken out about their views around China and other places in the world, and if the consequences are that we’re taken off the air or we lose money, we accept that,” Silver said.

With media members and fans across the world currently crushing PGA Tour golfers for leaving the tour for the Saudi Arabian-funded LIV Golf, the criticism seems to be a pick and choose model, as the NBA has seemingly skated through any of its own for its dealings with China.

Like Saudi Arabia, China has had its share of human rights violations. Look no further than the ongoing genocide against Muslim Uyghurs, which NBA free agent center Enes Kanter Freedom has brought to light throughout the past year.

The answer is simply that some in the NBA do not care. Those are the words of Warriors co-owner Chamath Palihapitiya.

“Nobody cares about what’s happening to the Uyghurs, okay,” Palihapitiya said on the All-In podcast in January. “You bring it up because you care and I think it’s nice that you care. The rest of us don’t care. I’m just telling you a very hard, ugly truth. Of all the things that I care about, yes, it is below my line.”

Written by Nick Geddes

Nick Geddes is a 2021 graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. A life-long sports enthusiast, Nick shares a passion for sports writing and is proud to represent OutKick.

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  1. Huh. How about that. Guess Silver was lying when he said the NBA was “losing millions” because of their politics and deals with China. But keep preaching bullshit to Americans under the pretense of “caring about human rights.”

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