NBA blocks pro-freedom message on jerseys, allowed anti-Semitic and cop-killer messages

NBA blocks pro-freedom message on jerseys, allowed anti-Semitic and cop-killer messages
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver (Image: YouTube screen grab)

As Sean Davis noted, “The NBA’s store will let you design and purchase custom jerseys with user-created messages like ‘KILLCOPS’ and ‘MURDERPOLICE’ and ‘BURN JEWS.’ But if you try to customize a jersey that says ‘FreeHongKong,’ the NBA won’t let you.”  This was before the Daily Caller gave the National Basketball Association lots of bad press for allowing the hateful messages; as outrage on social media spread, the NBA stopped selling ‘KILLCOPS’ jerseys.

But it still won’t let you get a custom jersey saying “FreeHongKong.” As the Daily Caller reports:

The NBA won’t make custom jerseys for fans that say “FreeHongKong” on the back, according to the merchandise section of its website.

After a viral video made the rounds on Twitter of a fan not being able to make a customized “FreeHongKong” jersey, I decided to check it out just to make sure it was real. As the Daily Caller’s David Hookstead notes, “If you try to put in “FreeHongKong” into the name section, a message pops up that reads, ‘We are unable to customize this item with the text you have entered. Please try a different entry.'”

Recently, China’s communist government ended the autonomy and civil-liberties that Hong Kong’s seven million people had enjoyed; arrested many people; and silenced dissent. NBA players and the NBA’s management have shown indifference toward the human-rights violations in Hong Kong.

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After consultations with its players, the NBA allows them to wear any of 32 messages “on the nameplates on the back of their uniforms.” But not messages supporting freedom in Hong Kong. One of the 32-approved messages could be read as a pro-communist message (“group economics“).

In 2019, the NBA kowtowed to the authoritarian human-rights abusers in China. As Fox News reported:

Lawmakers from across the political spectrum came together Monday – if only for a moment – to slam the NBA for … apologizing to China over a tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey that expressed support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Morey himself was also forced to apologize. NBA team owners claimed that Morey had acted inappropriately because the NBA is not a “political” organization. The claim that the NBA does not take political positions is obviously wrong, and a pretext for kowtowing to human-rights abusers.

Under NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, the NBA frequently takes political positions to pander to special-interest groups.

Hans Bader

Hans Bader

Hans Bader practices law in Washington, D.C. After studying economics and history at the University of Virginia and law at Harvard, he practiced civil-rights, international-trade, and constitutional law. He also once worked in the Education Department. Hans writes for and has appeared on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” Contact him at


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