Last Week Tonight host John Oliver criticized ESPN host Stephen A. Smith on Sunday for his position on the NBA’s relationship with China. In his 30-minute show on HBO, Oliver discussed the news that China was excluding the Houston Rockets from it’s NBA programming after a tweet from Rockets GM Darryl Morey went viral.
Last week, Morey tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protests in an ongoing fight for human rights which sparked backlash from the Chinese government which Stephen A. claims were wrong of Morey to do.
“You don’t just think about yourself when you act,” Smith said on his radio show speaking on Morey’s tweet. “That’s what children do. Grown-ups, adults, people who understand what its like to build something… and to be responsible for people other than themselves, they get that you don’t just speak willy nilly… run your mouth… without any thoughts of the consequences.”
Stephen A. was referring to the NBA building a relationship with China in a move that financially is beneficial for the league but the optics aren’t as pleasing given the ongoing protests in Hong Kong in a fight for democracy.
“He tends to be loud, wrong and take pointlessly dramatic pauses,” Oliver jokingly said on his comedy show before getting to the real issue.“What smith is essentially doing there is arguing that casually turning a blind eye to human rights violations is okay if doing so is in your company’s best interest and that feels fundamentally wrong,” Oliver said.
The NBA and China are currently working to restore their relationship after the Morey tweet fallout. Commissioner Adam Silver has stood by Morey throughout the ordeal.