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Benefits of NBA-China partnership? Well, there’s the money

Here in the Pontification Department, where absolute solutions are offered for free, the NBA’s relationship with China presents a challenge.

The obvious fix for that increasingly problematic partnership is for the NBA to cut ties, for Commissioner Adam Silver to tell China — to use an old baseball expression — to go poop in its hat.

Not going to happen.

Fortunately, we do have some suggestions for at least tempering the NBA’s continuing escalation of a relationship that is infinitely lucrative but endlessly risky, and which threatens to cost the NBA its soul.

First, it’s important to acknowledge that the NBA’s partnership with China goes way, way deeper than the casual observer would observe. The NBA makes roughly $5 billion a year from China. Separate from that, many team owners and players, individually, are heavily invested in China.

It’s also important to acknowledge that many of these relationships and investment deals were formed long before China took a turn toward greater authoritarianism and human-rights atrocities.

Not to single out one player, but Klay Thompson has a shoe deal with Anta, China’s largest sportswear company. The Warriors’ guard signed with Anta in 2014, when dealing with China did not carry the deep political and moral implications it does now. Thompson makes about $9 million per year on the deal, per Forbes.

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