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Jim Talent: NBA doesn’t ‘have to let Beijing push them around like this’


Former U.S. Senator Jim Talent, a Republican and self-proclaimed “huge NBA fan,” blasted the league for “bungling” its involvement in the growing dispute between China and Hong Kong. 

The kerfuffle began earlier this month when Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey tweeted an image supportive of the Hong Kong protestors with the caption “Fight for Freedom.” He’s since deleted the tweet and apologized, but not before the ramifications, including financial, reverberated throughout the NBA. 

Yao Ming, a former Rockets player and president of the Chinese Basketball Association, joined the outcry, as did Lebron James, whose comments were widely criticized. And NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appeared to widen the divide when he said Beijing wanted Morey fired; Chinese state media has denied the accusation, saying Silver will face “retribution sooner or later.” 

Appearing on “This Week in Missouri Politics” Sunday, Talent said NBA players, who “are some of the most recognizable, powerful people in the world,” should stand up to Chinese criticism. 

“[T]he NBA, particularly the players of the NBA, don’t have to let Beijing push them around like this,” Talent, who served in the U.S. Senate from 2002 to 2007, said.

“It does bother me when people are letting themselves get pushed around when they don’t have to. I don’t think it takes that much courage [to stand up to Beijing],” he continued. “I think they’ll sell more sneakers. I don’t think the Chinese will cut off their sneaker sales.” 

During Sunday’s show, Talent also defended the Trump administration’s handling of the situation in Syria with Turkey. He said President Donald Trump “used the appropriate tools” to protect the country’s national interests throughout the clash. 

Campaign season

Joe Lakin with Victory Enterprises; Brittany Robbins, a public relations and communications strategist; John Gaskin, a lobbyist with Flotron & McIntosh; and Gregg Keller, principal of Atlas Strategy, joined the panel this week — largely also tackling the NBA situation. 

But the panel also dove into the gubernatorial campaign between Gov. Mike Parson and Auditor Nicole Galloway. 

“Both candidates are proving that they’re going to run excellent campaigns. What it’s going to come down to is the landscape of 2020 and just where Missouri is on the political spectrum,” Robbins said. 

Tune into the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” for more on potential impeachment of Trump and campaign season.