Long: NBA No Longer Occupies Moral High Ground

The NBA is a business, Chris Long says, and its moral authority has disappeared

Tiki and Tierney
October 16, 2019 - 7:01 pm

Former NFL defensive lineman Chris Long dropped by CBS Sports Radio on Wednesday to discuss numerous topics, including the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles, the NBA’s China crisis and social activism in sports. 

Long, a two-time Super Bowl champion, is no stranger to social justice. He was the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year in 2018, and he’ll be the first to tell you: activism ain’t easy.

“We have to figure out what we expect from our athletes,” Long said on Tiki & Tierney. “Do we expect them to speak out on things that don’t affect them? Or do we not? Because right now we’re in this situation with China, and there’s a couple games being played. The first one is if you didn’t care what athletes had to say about social justice, don’t care what they have to say about the NBA. Well, I care about both. What about me? 

“I’m interested in hearing what some of these guys who have been trailblazers have to say about interfacing with China and the totalitarian regime and everything going on with Hong Kong and the issues in China. You’re making a bunch of money there. Don’t be surprised if people ask you questions.”

LeBron James didn’t handle that so well.

“No one player should ever have to tackle one issue if he doesn’t want to,” Long said. “A lot of people got mad at players in the NFL; there were a ton of players – black and white – who didn’t talk about (Colin Kaepernick), didn’t talk about the anthem. I never went down that road where people wanted me to criticize them or tell them they had to talk. An NBA player doesn’t have to talk about anything they don’t want to. But if you’re going to talk about it, come correct because it’s a hot topic.”

As it stands, the NBA is stuck between a rock and a hard place – and its status as a moral authority has waned.

“The NBA kind of occupied, rightfully, a moral high ground over the circus in the NFL – and I’m talking about the circus from the way the owners and the commissioner has handled social justice,” Long said. “They don’t occupy that anymore. They are now a business, and so let’s just not be surprised by that.”