Adam Silver
Adam Silver

NBA commissioner Adam Silver is standing tall, so far, following the over-the-top negative reaction orchestrated by China’s state-run media to a single tweet by Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morley in support of freedom fighters in Hong Kong.

The league, which had nearly a half-billion people in China watching its online games in 2018, stands to lose millions in revenues and potentially lucrative franchise expansion opportunities due to a tweet that apparently upset the tender sensitivities of the Chinese people.

 “Morey’s position is hurtful to Chinese basketball fans and is also an affront to the Chinese people,” said the People’s Daily, newspaper of the communist party.  

Aren’t those same tender sensitivities jarred at least a bit by the internment camps (spun as re-education camps) established by China’s government to eliminate the culture of the country's Muslim population?

Rather than kowtowing to China’s authorities, Silver called the entire situation unfortunate, “but if that’s the consequences of us adhering to our values, we still feel it’s critically important we adhere to those values.”

That drew a rebuke from state broadcaster China Central Television: “We voice our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to Adam Silver offering us as an excuse the right to freedom of expression.”

Silver noted that the US and China have different viewpoints on a range of issues but it’s not the role of the NBA to sort things out.

The commissioner’s stiff backbone stands in contrast to president Trump, who took time out from slapping sanctions on Chinese technology companies and waging a tariff war against China, to ask its government to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and son, Hunter.

What was the stable genius blessed with great and unmatched wisdom thinking when he blurted that doozy out?

It makes one long for Adam Silver as US president.

It’s been an interesting week for WPP PR flagships BCW and Hill+Knowlton Strategies.

Hikvision

BCW client Hikvision USA loomed large in the news as the Trump Administration blacklisted it and 27 other Chinese companies due to the roles they played in the government's mass detentions of Uighurs and other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang region.

Hikvision is one of the world’s largest makers of surveillance cameras and its equipment was used in the high-tech surveillance of the minority groups.

BCW, which is helmed by Donna Imperato, received $185K in fees and expenses from Hikivision during the first half of 2019 for PA, policy work, planning and guidance.

It also handled media outreach, contacting reporters from the New York Times (Edward Wong, Ana Swanson), Wall Street Journal (Ryan Tracy, Mike Bird), Washington Post (Drew Harwell, Yuan Wang), Financial Times (Camilla Hodgson), South China Morning Post (Sarah Dai), The Guardian (Lillian Yang) and Bloomberg (Mark Bergen, Todd Shields, Blake Schmidt, Gao Yuan, Olivia Carville, Bill Allison) on behalf of Hikvision.

Hikvision says the sanctions won’t have much of an impact on its long-term outlook because it doesn’t rely on US technology.

The company joins telecom equipment company Huawei on the US sanctions list.  Huawei on Sept. 23 hired BCW’s Pivot Integrated Communications to a $939K one-year PR campaign in the US.

BCW is becoming the go-to PR firm for sanctioned Chinese companies.

IAAF

H&K staffers let out a collective sigh of relief Oct. 6 as the International Association of Athletics Federation's track & field championship mercifully came to an end.

Staged in the overwhelming heat and humidity of Qatar, the Games will be remembered for images of marathon runners carried away in stretchers and rows of empty spectator seats, according to the New York Times, which called the event “a largely joyless 10 days of action.”

Only 40 of the 68 women marathoners finished their race that began around midnight when the temperature registered an oppressive 92 degrees and humidity clocked in at 72 percent. That’s not a very conducive atmosphere for a run of 26.2 miles.

Kevin Mayer, decathlon world-record holder, neatly summed up the championships in Doha as a “disaster."

Qatar, which defeated the US and Spain to host the event, only won its prize after the royal family dished out millions in sponsorships.

The Times reported that local organizers of the Doha Disaster remained out of sight during the event and that H&K’s team snubbed the paper when it asked for interviews with the brains behind the championship.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe tried to put a positive spin upon conclusion of the Games, calling them “the best in history in terms of depth of performances.” He apparently then hopped the next flight out of town.

The IAAF fiasco does not bode well for Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup.