Principles Over Profit

I was pleased to see NBA Commissioner Adam Silver say this with respect to the controversy over Houston Rockets’ General Manager Daryl Morey’s tweet in support of the protest movement in Hong Kong:

The NBA will not put itself in a position of regulating what players, employees and team owners say or will not say. We simply could not operate that way.

The NBA faces the potential of a backlash in China that could impact the league’s business interests there.

That could reduce the profits of the league and players and owners.

But the NBA is putting principles over profits here and that is a good thing.

We have faced this issue a number of times over the years at USV and we have tried to do the same.

We have also been on boards of companies that have faced this issue over the years and we have advocated for this approach.

It is not an easy choice. Companies have employees to pay, families to feed, and customers to serve. And principles are not always shared by everyone and the lines are not always clear

But one thing is for sure. The search for profits can lead a founder, a CEO, a team, a Board, and a Company to forget their principles and that is never a good thing.

#entrepreneurship#life lessons#management

Comments (Archived):

  1. obarthelemy

    Isn’t the whole US commercial sports apparatus a) exploiting mostly-poor, mostly-black college athletes forcing them to work for no pay while richly paying paying itself, b) continuing to employ people with abuse/violence issues and c) repressing political speech ie kneeling ?

    1. DaveGoulden

      The NBA has been pretty good about supporting players who have spoken out against police violence towards blacks. Although that may not have been as principled as it appears because they surely judged whether their US fan base would be supportive of the athletes (which they were). Unlike the NFL, where there was much fan outrage at Colin Kaepernick’s protest. Bottom line, these are big businesses who are heavily focused on profit for everything they do (including the NCAA).

      1. JLM

        .The NCAA is a slave labor gulag. They are stealing the life force of the players.College basketball players should sit out the first half of every NCAA March Madness game until the NCAA stops stealing their life force.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

        1. DaveGoulden

          I’m happy that we got the ball rolling in California, which is only a small start to bringing equity to the people who create the value in the NCAA (the athletes)!

          1. JLM

            .I just might start a national work stoppage for the NCAA Tourney. I am debating what else I have to do in March.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

      2. Richard

        Yuk, modern police violence against blacks is so offensive to black and white police. Support your police

  2. awaldstein

    With some exceptions, whenever I think something is simply one way or the other, I am wrong,

    1. JLM

      .Arnold, I agree more with you than you do with yourself. You are usually wrong.Come on, you set that one up. Be well.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    2. Amar

      As I get older I do tend to see more things as gray. That said, as I get older I also see the value in believing in a few things deeply and seeing them as black & white. My pastor once gave a great sermon:”Opinions”————-“Beliefs”——————–“Convictions”L->R. Go from weakly held and often changes to strongly held and worth defending to death. By implication – I am extremely sparse and frugal with my convictions and generous with my opinions 🙂 (the latter gives my product team a lot of headaches)I also rarely let my opinions or beliefs ruin a good friendship, bbq or evening. I have broken hearts and had my heart broken because of my convictions. Some things are in fact one way or the other.

      1. awaldstein

        These are great rules to live by.I have exceptions though that don’t ruin evenings, but have certainly ended friendships.

    3. sigmaalgebra

      This statement is one way, the other way, or one of the exceptions?

  3. Corey Lian

    I don’t think the NBA in this case is putting principle over profit. The principle Adam Silver stated was basically that the NBA does not condone or support what its individual players / owners says. The Rockets GM tweeted that he was in support of the Hong Kong protesters (one very complex situation where I can see support for both sides) and Adam Silver basically stated the NBA does not second that. If anything, this move was a move towards profit due to already backlash with CCTV, Tencent suspending relations with the NBA. Adam Silver was damage controlling. Interestingly enough, this also doesn’t mean the NBA is choosing profit necessarily because they can also in principle be saying they don’t support violent protesting.

  4. Rick Mason

    The NBA has a lot of explaining to do. Last night in Philadelphia at an exhibition game a 76’ers fan and his wife were kicked out of the game for two small signs promoting freedom for Hong Kong.…I absolutely love basketball but I think that I’m going to stick with supporting the college game until the league comes to their senses.

  5. kenberger

    South Park (the legendary TV cartoon) just aired an episode directly concerning China censorship and Hollywood, China did indeed ban them, and then the founders made this fake apology, they even cited the NBA thing:

  6. pointsnfigures

    Pretty sloppy the way they are handling it. I feel like the South Park Season 23 Episode 2, “Band in China” was really good satire with some truth behind it. Watch it. You will laugh, but think.

  7. JE

    While I can give a tepid golf clap for Silver’s remarks yesterday, the silence coming from every other NBA leader (LaBron, head coaches, other players, agents, etc…) is embarrassing and shows their collective and blatant disregard for the values that allow this league (and indeed all professional leagues teams) to thrive. Watching Steve Kerr dance around the question earlier this week was his lowest moment as a spokesperson for what is decent and right in the 20+ years he has been a public figure.

  8. JLM

    .Huh?The NBA is NOT putting principle over profit. They are rolling over like little bitches, getting down on their knees, and bartering their manhood.The Houston GM made a statement that was truthful. China slapped the NBA like a dog.Tilman Fertitta, big swinging dick Texan billionaire owner of the Rockets, threw his GM under the bus like a pussy. I am appalled that he would be such a ball-less wonder. I am going to petition him to move to Los Angeles or New York where he will be more comfortable.China promised the world “One China, Two Systems” as it relates to Hong Kong. Once the Chinese had control they told Hong Kong that they were now part of China and subject to extradition to mainland Chinese courts and prisons.Part of the “two systems” was to respect that Hong Kong had its own governing apparatus, legislature, courts, and prisons. Xi put his person in to run Hong Kong and she is slowly dismantling all the freedoms of the “second” system. She speaks beautiful English, but she is a Red.Boom!That is what is driving the riots in Hong Kong — the actual freedoms of Hong Kong being eliminated. Freedoms solemnly sworn to by the Chinese Communists v assimilating Hong Kong into the brutal dictatorship that is mainland China.The Hong Kong Chinese rebels are the Blood Brothers of the American Founding Fathers.China made an inroad to the NBA in a substantial way when the NBA approved the sale of the Brooklyn Nets to Joseph Tsai one of the co-founders of Alibaba. He bought out Russian Mikhail Prokhorov’s 51% interest.Tsai also bought the Barclays Center.From this base, the Chinese embraced the NBA’s expansion into China in the form of training camps, exhibition games, cross-league games in China. The NBA is looking for an enormous new television market. To access that market the NBA is prepared to give up their manhood, eliminate their national fan base, and pay homage to the power of the Chinese Communist dictatorship that is China.China is into total control of its people — witness the Chinese Social Credit System which will assign a number to every single Chinese citizen on a continuum from “trustworthy/obedient” to “disobedient.” The CSCS will decide who gets to marry, have children, go to certain schools, follow certain careers, travel both domestically and internationally, vote, and be able to create wealth.Every single Chinese person — 1.4B people — will be reduced to a number.It is the intellectual equivalent of the tattooed numbers on the arms of the Auschwitz prisoners. In China’s case, the gulag is just larger.Already the Chinese have punished more than 15,000,000 disobedient persons — 32MM cancelled airplane tickets, 6MM cancelled train tickets, millions of passports cancelled.In an odd way, tech plays into this suppression of personal freedoms in China — the Chinese are keen on face recognition payment systems such as Alipay and WeChatPay because the gov’t obtains this facial recognition, payment patterns, and underlying financial instruments and accounts.The Chinese have developed a tech computer system that can scan a crowd of 10,000 and pick out a target in less than 3 seconds. This system has a resolution 5X the human eye. The Chinese will use this to demolish dissidence. They are already using it to photograph crowds (one of the reasons why the Red Chinese banned masks in Hong Kong — so they could get high resolution, facial recognition data for future use).China is a very heavy handed regulator — witness the crypto business in which ICOs are flat out a criminally, illegal undertaking that can land a perp in jail for life. You can complain about the US SEC but you need to study what China is doing.We better get serious about the Chinese because they are coming for us with a fledgling blue water navy, the militarization of 12 islands/atolls in the S China Sea (controlling more than 40% of the world’s shipping lanes from ground based shore-to-ship missiles), and the proliferation of advanced nuclear weapon delivery systems.In the Clinton admin the Chinese had a total of 12 ICBM rockets with a single warhead each. At one time we and the Russians considered knocking the Chinese out with a combined first strike.When Clinton and Loral Aerospace conspired to sell the Chinese both Cray computer tech and MIRV tech they started a nuke proliferation program — the Chinese were able to immediately put 12 warheads on each of their 12 rockets creating a target list of 144 American cities — that has the Chinese now with 900 intercontinental warheads and the ability to hit the US mainland in 30 minutes from launch as well as a missile system capable of flying at more than 7000 MPH, far beyond any US anti-missile system to intercept.Xi sent us a pointed message when he paraded all that hardware through Peking to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the control of China by the Communists.Read this: https://themusingsofthebigr…China is 90% Han Chinese and is systematically eliminating any opposition — Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the poor Uyghurs (Muslims) who they are imprisoning, re-educating, murdering. This is WWII Nazi style concentration camp activity.China has killed millions and millions of its people — the Chinese Civil War, the War Against the Landlords, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and, now, the Chinese Social Credit System. These guys are murderers.Mao starved more than 30MM of his own people to feed the other 30MM. He was the son of a peasant and he starved the peasants wholesale to generate hard currency from food exports. This is a man who said it might not be a bad idea to engage in a nuclear exchange as they would survive as they have more people. This is the intellectual basis for the Founding Father of Communist China.Xi is his disciple, his heir, his ideological son. They made the guy President For Life!I could go on for a couple more hours.Fuck the Chinese. Fuck the NBA — you little pussies.Pres Trump is the only China realist in the US leadership today.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. DJL

      Amen brother. I am sick of this suck-up-to-China media shit.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      I’m waiting to hear NBA’s response, stance, once 4 of their teams – including one of their top players Lebron James – is no longer in China.A valuable tweetstorm thread (8 posts) by an ex-Blizzard employee worth reading to highlight China’s leadership’s strategy:

  9. cavepainting

    Sorry but the NBA was shameless in the way they handled this. They literally genuflected in front of China and then put out a brave statement supporting freedom of speech once the blowback within the US became significant.This could have been a time for the NBA and its principles to shine if they had got it right. After all, 600m Chinese watch the NBA and you think you have NO leverage there?No credit for speaking from all corners of the mouth.

    1. JLM

      .The first one to strike often wins. The NBA should have used their market share. Now, the Chinese have the NBA by the short hairs and control the situation.Of course, I agree more with you than your do with yourself. Well played.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  10. jason wright

    NBA and MBA. There may have been a misunderstanding in Beijing.

  11. DJL

    Bullshit. The NBA refuses to hold events in towns that won’t promote gender-neutral bathrooms, but they will suck up to China in the interest of money. The Chinese government still kills people that speak their mind. The NBA should leave China. What a crock.

  12. Mike

    “We have also been on boards of companies that have faced this issue over the years and we have advocated for this approach.” If a Company wants to deviate from a profit motive to make a stand on principal I think it’s fair to solicit support from the board, shareholders, employees and even customers. Unified position, shared sacrifice.

  13. Steve Gilpin

    Hear! Hear!