Forty principal owners in the NBA have more than a combined $10bn tied up in China, investments that have significant impact on the valuation of the teams, according to an ESPN report published Thursday.
Between the personal investments and NBA China having grown into a $5bn business, “the China value of each of the league’s 30 teams (is) an estimated $150 million,” per the ESPN report.
The story discusses the scrutiny put on the NBA and its owners since then-Houston general manager Daryl Morey’s controversial tweet in October 2019 in support of Hong Kong protesters. The NBA playoffs returned to state-run TV in China just now after a near three-year ban as a result of Morey’s tweet.
The tweet cost the league and owners hundreds of millions and dollars while they worked to repair the damage, per ESPN.
The story shines light on the reticence of the league and its owners to speak out against human-rights abuses perpetrated by the authoritarian regime.
“Nobody really wants their name associated with China, but what can they do?” attorney Dan Harris of firm Harris Bricken told ESPN. “They’re sort of betwixt and between. If they say what Americans want them to say, it’s death in China. If they say what China wants, it’s death in America.”
Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai, co-founder of Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba, has the most money tied up in China, 53.3% of his net worth, per ESPN. Second is Sacramento Kings co-owner Paul Jacobs at 30%, per the report.