NBA Lord's NBA Blog

NBA Lord's NBA Blog

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday Slam: The NBA should not weigh in on Hong Kong

                                          (Credit: Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) 

The big news of the week in the NBA was Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey weighing in on the Hong Kong protests, making a statement in support of their right to freedom. While Morey was well intentioned in his statement/tweet, it set off a firestorm that the NBA wants no part of. To his credit, NBA commissioner Adam Silver issued a statement saying he will support the right of all NBA employees to exercise their freedom of speech and that the league will live with those consequences. He didn't totally cave to China and say that Morey was wrong.

While I think Silver handled this as well as he could have, I think that overall, the NBA shouldn't weigh in on this particular issue. I've been studying Mandarin Chinese for the last couple of years and have grown to love Chinese culture. As part of my Chinese studies, I've spent some time learning about current events in China and the political layout of the entire region. I don't have time to get into all the layers of the Chinese geopolitical landscape, but let me just say in short that it's complicated.

Taiwan for example sees themselves as the ones holding down the fort for democracy in China as the Republic of China while Mainland China (known as the People's Republic of China) sees themselves as the one true China. In their eyes, the Republic of China in Taiwan is a rebellious government that must one day be reunited with them.

Taiwan has broken off from Mainland China and started their own thing, which in a lot of ways makes things simpler. They have their own democratic government that doesn't have to answer to the PRC. While there is the potential threat of the PRC coming in and taking over their land, such a move by the PRC would result in too much backlash from the rest of the world. While there is tension there, Taiwan can be comforted by the fact that the rest of the world has their back and will stand with them if something goes wrong.

As for Hong Kong, they're in some weird in-between limbo kind of state. They were under British rule as a colony until 1997 in which they were handed back to the PRC under a certain set of conditions that promised them total freedom for 50 years (until 2047). What's happening now is the PRC is starting to infringe on Hong Kong's freedoms prematurely, trying to expedite the transition. The reason why the PRC is doing this is because there's now a lot more cities that are on par with Hong Kong's economic power such as Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. In 1997, Hong Kong was by far the most economically powerful city in China, making it a valuable resource that made sense not to touch.

With that no longer the case, the PRC is asking themselves why not just bring Hong Kong back into the fold and get this all over with? Why delay the inevitable? From their perspective it's a totally fair question to ask.

As a result of this weird limbo state and seeing what's on the horizon, Hong Kongers are going through an identity crisis. For so long, they've seen themselves as Hong Kongers first and separate from the rest of Mainland China. They have their own unique culture and their first language isn't even Mandarin. It's Cantonese. Now, they see that in the near future, they're going to become grafted back into Mainland China and thus risk losing their Hong Kong identity. Their language risks getting replaced by Mandarin and their culture risks getting replaced by Mainland Chinese culture. It's a scary thing for them.

With all of this going on and so many layers to unpack, the NBA couldn't possibly address this issue in an adequate or fair way. Especially in a tweet. Instead of muddying the waters, the NBA should let Hong Kong, Mainland China, and Taiwan sort this all out by themselves. The best way they can help is to stay quiet about politics and bring harmony to the region through the game of basketball.

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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Saturday Slam: Toronto Raptors need to sign Pascal Siakam to a max extension

                                          (Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports) 

Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that four-year power forward Pascal Siakam is seeking a max contract extension from the Toronto Raptors. After averaging 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds per game in his sophomore season, Siakam had a breakout year last season, averaging 16.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, establishing himself as one of the top power forwards in the NBA.

With Kawhi Leonard gone and Kyle Lowry getting older, the Raptors need a new piece to build around, making Siakam a no-brainer candidate to fill that void in the coming seasons. He's young, athletic, and evolving into a really nice stretch forward. If they don't lock him up, their future becomes a lot more uncertain.

One of the things I've wanted to address on this blog is that even without Leonard, this Raptors team is still really good with Lowry, Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Fred VanVleet, and Marc Gasol.  When talking about who could come out of the Eastern Conference next season, don't sleep on this Raptors team. They still have a lot of dangerous pieces.

Going back to Siakam, as I said earlier, he's the best piece that they have to build around for the future. At just 25 years of age, he has a lot of room for growth. If he doesn't get offered a max extension from the Raptors, some other team will likely offer him one instead. The Raptors need to listen to his demands and give him what he wants. If they don't, they're going to regret it.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Tomahawk Tuesday: Everyone is sleeping on the Golden State Warriors

Due to the departure of Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson's torn ACL, many assume the 2020 Western Conference champion will be someone other than the Golden State Warriors, who have won the last five Western Conference titles. While there are a lot of good teams in the Western Conference that could certainly dethrone them, it has been surprising how many people, including myself, seem to have forgotten just how much of a strangle hold the Warriors have had. 

I don't want to undermine the significance of losing Durant and the injury to Thompson. Durant was huge to the Warriors' championship runs and Thompson, the second Splash Brother, is a killer back court mate for Stephen Curry. The road just got harder for the Warriors, but that doesn't mean it's impossible for them to conquer. Below are three reasons why the Warriors can still get back to the NBA Finals in 2020. 

#1. Stephen Curry: If there is one player who has had to sacrifice their ego to make this Warriors team work, it's Stephen Curry. Before Durant came aboard, the Warriors were Curry's team and he did a masterful job of running them. Now, once again, the Warriors belong to Curry and you can bet that he is excited. Plus, Curry knows how much he and his team are being overlooked. Look for a very motivated and focused Curry this season. That should scare everyone in the NBA. 

#2. Experience: When you have been to five straight NBA Finals, one thing you definitely have is experience. The Warriors have been through a lot as a team and have always found a way to come out of the West anyways. They know how to dig deep and go to the well better than any team in the NBA. The rest of the Western Conference is much more unproven and until someone comes along and proves that they can beat them, the Dubs deserve the respect that five straight NBA Finals appearances gets you. 

#3. Klay Thompson isn't out for the year: While the Warriors will start the season without Klay, he's not done for the season. He should be back after the All-Star break and help the Warriors make a championship run come playoff time. So long as they have the Splash Brothers as well as Draymond Green, the Warriors should be feeling pretty good. On top of that, they have an amazing head coach in Steve Kerr who can be trusted to make the right adjustments. 

The bottom line: The Warriors have made five straight NBA Finals appearances for a reason and still have a ton of talent and experience. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Steve Kerr have been through the fire before and know what it takes to go all the way. I understand the Western Conference has a lot of interesting new flavors, but that shouldn't make us forget who has been winning the West over these last several years. 

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