American coaches at three NBA training academies in China told league officials their Chinese partners were physically abusing young players and failing to provide schooling, even though commissioner Adam Silver had said that education would be central to the program, according to multiple sources with direct knowledge of the complaints.
The NBA ran into myriad problems by opening one of the academies in Xinjiang, a police state in western China where more than a million Uighur Muslims are now held in barbed-wire camps. American coaches were frequently harassed and surveilled in Xinjiang, the sources said. One American coach was detained three times without cause; he and others were unable to obtain housing because of their status as foreigners.
The ESPN investigation, which began after Morey's tweet, sheds new light on the lucrative NBA-China relationship and the costs of doing business with a government that suppresses free expression and is accused of cultural genocide.
The NBA employees who spoke with ESPN said many of the league's problems stemmed from the decision to embed the academies in government-run sports facilities. The facilities gave the NBA access to existing infrastructure and elite players, Tatum said. But the arrangement put NBA activities under the direction of Chinese officials who selected the players and helped define the training.
"We were basically working for the Chinese government," one former coach said.
Wednesday, July 29, 2020
"A former [NBA] employee compared the atmosphere when he worked in Xinjiang to 'World War II Germany'"